- By: Dr. John Stenberg
- Date: Oct 16, 2018
If you’ve ever experienced muscular spasm, then you can appreciate how painful and irritating uncontrolled muscle twitching can be. Hemifacial spasm is a rare condition that affects 11 out of 100,000 with few natural treatment options. Understanding the mechanism behind hemifacial muscle spasm is essential for achieving maximal improvement and for evaluating treatment options.
What is it?
The facial nerve is the 7th of 12 nerves that originate within the skull and then exit to supply tissues elsewhere in the body. The facial nerve is the electrical wiring to the muscles around the face including eyes, forehead, and lips. This nerve is extremely important in conveying nonverbal communication via facial expressions. For example, to squint your eyes tightly shut requires contraction of the muscles around the eye that when tightened close the eyes.
Hemifacial spasm is a condition in which the facial nerve becomes compressed near the brainstem causing malfunction of the muscles of facial expression. One of the first signs of hemifacial spasm is twitching of the eye, a sort of “short circuiting” of the nerve circuit that causes uncontrolled contraction of the muscles around the eye.
As hemifacial spasm progresses, the nerve irritation causes frequent and intense contractions that are both uncontrollable and uncomfortable. Many individuals who suffer from hemifacial spasm find their condition socially isolating and can suffer from additional conditions such as anxiety or depression.
As a rare condition, there are few treatment options available for achieving the resolution of hemifacial spasm. Pharmaceutical treatments are generally less effective for progressive or advanced hemifacial spasm, and surgical approaches seek to decompress the root of the facial nerve at the brainstem where it begins.
Natural and non-invasive treatment options are few, though targeted structural approaches have shown promise for some patients. In 2011, a case report was published in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic research that highlighted the resolution of hemifacial spasm in a patient who presented with signs of Atlas Displacement (a.k.a. upper cervical subluxation)
Abnormal structural integrity of the upper neck has the potential to create nerve irritation in the region of the upper spinal cord and brainstem – the location of the root of the facial nerve. When these nerve circuits become obstructed, one or more secondary conditions are likely to develop involving tissues receiving electrical impulses along the nerve.
The 48-year-old male patient in this report experienced hemifacial spasm for one year with associated symptoms including neck pain and tension. This patient showed signs of cervical spine dysfunction including decreased range of motion in the neck and low back along with low back pain and facial spasm.
After only three corrective adjustments to the upper neck, this patient experienced a resolution of all of his hemifacial spasm symptoms, which remained absent at a three-month checkup. These adjustment procedures were precise and included no twisting, popping, or cracking of the neck or back.
Structural problems require structural solutions. Structural shifts at the base of the head and upper neck can create turbulent spinal fluid flow, increased tension around the muscles that move the head and neck, and obstruction to the cranial nerves through a variety of mechanisms. Individuals experiencing hemifacial spasm who have experienced head and neck trauma such as sports injuries, falls, car accidents, and other whiplash type injuries should be evaluated for the presence of spinal obstructions including Atlas Displacement Complex as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
NeuroStructural Chiropractic is focused on detecting and correcting Atlas Displacement Complex using state of the art technology and targeted and gentle corrective procedures. Image-guided adjusting procedures ensure that no twisting, popping, or cracking of the neck will be performed in addressing these conditions.