10 Nov Fixing the Twitch! — Managing a Hemifacial Spasm with the Alexander Technique
I have a student named Judy, who had some immediate fantastic results using the Alexander Technique. She has a very obvious ‘twitch’ or a Hemi-Facial Spasm in the left part of her face that can range from her eye and travel down to include her mouth. I asked her to tell her experience, because she has been searching for a solution to this problem for 7 years! If you or someone you know is suffering with a spasm of this nature, please seek out an AmSAT Certified Teacher! We were able to free her whole body and the twitch just disappeared! By freeing her body, I mean she softened the muscles along her neck and her whole back, giving weight to the balls of her feet and when sitting, her sit-bones.
“Without warning, my left eye started to twitch. The twitch started at the outside corner of my eye, at the temple. It didn’t cause my eye to wink, rather it caused my eye to squeeze closed in a series of quick spasms. By the end of the day, the whole left side of my face was sporadically twisting into spasms that I couldn’t control.
It wasn’t painful, but it was very embarrassing as it distorted normal facial expressions and blocked vision. The spasms occurred sporadically, each lasting 15-20 seconds. Would it spread to other areas?
I had a dental procedure the day before the spasms began, so I thought I must be having a reaction to the drugs used. Or maybe a nerve had been injured during the procedure. My dentist assured me that there was no way twitching was connected to my dental procedure. He suggested I talk with my family doctor.
My family doctor didn’t seem worried. She ruled out stroke and Bell’s Palsy, and she concluded that the spasms were probably caused by stress. She wrote a prescribed a drug that would help with stress and suggested that I come back in a few weeks. She mentioned that I might want to see a neurologist, if I was worried.
The neurologist reviewed my medical history and performed a neurological exam. He ordered an MRI scan to rule out conditions like brain tumors and aneurysms. He ordered an electromyogram (EMG) study of my face to measure my muscle and nerve electrical activity.
His diagnosis? A rare condition called hemifacial spasm. Test results showed the exact location of the problem. An artery and a facial nerve were so close together deep in my neck that when they bumped together the nerve would misfire and make my facial muscles contract. Because of the location, he would not correct this through surgery. It was too dangerous. He said it might stop naturally, or it might continue forever.
(NOTE: Hemifacial spasm is related to trigeminal neuralgia, an irritation of the fifth cranial nerve that causes severe facial pain (quick random stabs, like lightening bolts hitting your jaw). Both hemifacial spasm and trigeminal neuralgia are caused by a nerve being compressed by a blood vessel. The difference is whether a sensory nerve or a motor nerve is compressed. A few years earlier, I was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia. Over a six-month period, the stabbing pains gradually disappeared.)
The neurologist explained that medication, surgery, and Botox injections around the eye are treatment options to stop the spasms. Each treatment had its pros and cons. None of those sounded good to me. He referred me to a physical therapist who specialized in head and face.
The PT taught me that I could stop the spasms by pressing on my left temple, close to the left eye. That was great to learn, but he could do no more.
For seven years, I looked for help. I went to chiropractors to have my neck aligned. I tried recommended yoga poses, without relief. Acupressure and massage brought no improvement. I exercised faithfully, hoping to build neck muscles that might push the nerve and artery apart. I practiced relaxation, although I really couldn’t see how that would move my nerve and artery apart.
And for a few years, I got Botox injections every 4 months. I got the injections from an ophthalmologist who was popular for his rejuvenating face lifts and plastic surgery. The Botox made my left eye look 15 years younger than my right eye. With all that flexing of muscles on my left side of my face, it looked years younger than the right side. You can imagine that my face was clearly mismatched by now.
The Botox injections were not fun. First of all, I usually faint when I get shots. Fainting is miserable. The procedure required about a dozen shots. Some were just under the eyebrow, others were just below the eye, and some went into the left temple. The Botox did stop the spasms for 3-4 months. But on one visit, things went terribly wrong. I left the office with the entire left side of my face sagging. It took about four months for the Botox to get out of my system so my face could return to it’s normal appearance. After that experience, I stayed away from Botox for about two years.
Just recently I decided to resume Botox injections, because nothing else was helping. I was sick of having my face spasm every time I tried to talk to somebody. The twitching interfered with driving, reading, and with computer work. You can’t see with your eye squeezed shut! But I had one more thing to try. It was the Alexander Technique.
Lena Hart spoke about the Alexander Technique at a recent meeting of our local Parkinson’s Disease group. Part of her presentation included audience participation in small group demonstrations. Miracles were happening in the groups! I saw people moving in ways that they hadn’t been able to move in years! Lena and her helpers were giving audience members KNOWLEDGE, not drugs or mechanical aids. Knowledge of body mechanics allowed people to quickly tweak/change old habits and experience immediate results.
I made an appointment with Lena. Within 10 minutes she figured out what I was doing that caused my artery and nerve to move together. She taught me a better way to stand and to move. A lot of the things that I learned in school about body mechanics were no longer accurate. Armed with new information and a few hours of practice with Lena, I understand how to stop the spasms, and I understand how to prevent them. I am thrilled to be building new habits based on state-of-the-art knowledge about how the body works.
After 7 years of facial spasms, I spent one session with Lena showing me how use the Alexander Technique to control and eliminate my hemifacial spasms. For seven years, my body was trying to tell me about a problem. Lena used the Alexander Technique to identify my body’s call for help and respond correctly. I’m back in control!”
Find yourself an AmSAT Certified teacher in America or a STAT certified teacher in Europe. If you need help in finding someone certified in your country, I would be happy to help. Leave me a comment!