HFS facial spasms please help

by Cathy

one of my spasms 2013

one of my spasms 2013

I have had Hemifacial Spasm (right side) for 2 years, gradually worsening. Recently I was told it is caused by a slight spinal curvature leading to inflammation, tight muscles, poor lymphatic drainage & pressure on the vertebral arteries which then run up into the neck and brain, irritating the 6th and 7th facial nerves. This is aggravated by my age (46,in early menopause for 3 years now) which is apparently leading to bony spurs/'roughening' of bone surfaces catching on the vertebral arteries and causing irritation.

I have spent a fortune trying to treat the spasms, which twist half my face badly out of shape for anything up to 12 seconds at a time, every few minutes on a bad day. The only thing I have found that helps at all is regular osteopathic sessions which reduce the inflammation, correct the alignment of bones a little and release stiffness and 'locking up' in my neck and shoulders. This gives the arteries/nerves a bit more breathing space for a couple of weeks, after which the pain worsens again and we're back to square 1.

I want to know, is there anything here that chiropractic can help with?
Thank you so much for your time.
Warmest regards

Hello Cathy,
I regret this is beyond me, but my gut feeling is that chiropractic is unlikely to contribute more than your osteopathic treatment.

In fact I'm surprised that manipulation of your neck helps since the facial nerve goes nowhere near your neck. It appears the trigeminal nerve has been affected too.

Yes, it's true that the vertebral artery can be affected by the spine, and perhaps that's where you get some relief.

I'm sorry I have little to offer. The esteemed chiropractic neurologist Dr Carrick has an indepth course that many British chiropractors are studying. May I suggest you contact the British Chiropractic association and ask if there are any Carrick trained chiropractors in your area.

Dr B

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Sep 13, 2018
by: Anonymous

the facial and trigeminal tract and nucleus travels down the cervical spine and can be affected with degenerative changes or vertebral malpositioin. Look at CIBA medical illustration VOLUME 1 pages 101 and 167 for good visualization of the 5th and 7th CN. extending into the cervical spine.

Thank you for your comment. Have you found any research showing that chiropractic adjustments of the spine can help relieve facial spasms?

Do you have an update for us, Mrs Owen?

One further thought, really a long shot, but worth considering. Broad beans, also known as favas, are one of the few sources of L-dopa, a neurotransmitter vitally important and certainly involved in tremors. It's been proved to be more effective that medicines in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, and it has helped with my own essential tremor too.

You will have difficulty finding fresh fava beans. There is a source of L-dopa from another bean in tablet form.

Dr B

Feb 21, 2018
Natural Solution
by: Anonymous

Have you tried CBD oil?

I have my doubts, but won't hurt.

Dr B

Sep 10, 2016
Lady in the photo
by: C Owen

I am the lady in the photo above. This is an update. I've had this condition for around 5 years now. I have gone through every treatment imaginable and spent thousands of ££££s searchng for anything which might help. My spasms are still the same. I do NOT recommend Botox which I was offered by the neurologist. It can become ineffective after a few months and have side effects of facial droop at best, and lead to permanent nerve damage or paralysis at worst. I have found out my ONLY option fr a cure is microvascular decompression surgery. I have been recommended a surgeon called Nik Patel who works at the Spire hospital in Bristol, who is apparently really brilliant with a very high success rate. I am about to start the process of getting referred to him on the NHS as I have had enough of looking like a spastic and it's a pain in the bum now.

Thank you for your continuing comments and we wish you well. Please after surgery give us an update, and I'd particularly appreciate a copy of the surgeon's report; just what did he find?

One off the wall thought; ask your doctor if there are any signs of a B12 deficiency. Pernicious anaemia causes unusual neurological signs and symptoms. It's diagnosed on a routine blood test.

Dr B

Feb 07, 2016
Is there any help
by: Anonymous

I suffer from facial spasms, and over the last few years have got almost un bearable, the Botox injections now have no affect at all, and l sometimes think l should stop having them. This condition has taken away so much of my life, l hardly go out now, l can't smile, don't like going to restaurants and my personality has changed. Apart from the operation and Botox, is there anything else that can be done to help? I am 76 and seriously thinking about the operation, but l don't know what it involves, and rather scared of this procedure. Would acupuncture help?

I'm sorry, but I as a chiropractor have no experience with this condition. It's awful and disfiguring, so I understand your frustration.

The toss up is whether one accepts that after 70 things are going to start going wrong. Or, do you risk fairly expensive and invasive surgery that may help?

There's no right and wrong answer. Keep talking to as many folk as you can, and I'm sorry I have no contribution to make.

Good luck and God bless.

Dr B

Sep 29, 2015
hemifacial spasm
by: Anonymous

You need micro vascular decompression surgery of the 7th cranial nerve. An artery is causing irritation to your nerve. The surgery has a good outcome and the chances if complete resolution are around 90%.

I don't know who wrote this, or their authority, but it's worth considering.

Dr B

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

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