Are the twitches in your face scaring you?

It’s possible they can be caused by TMJ disorder, but it’s also possible those twitching muscles can be caused by a neurological disorder.

“TMJ disorders usually cause jaw pain, jaw locking, jaw sounds, trouble moving the jaw, headaches, but twitching in different areas of the face can also be experienced due to TMJ disorders,” says Brijesh Chandwani, DMD, BDS, Diplomate, American Board of Orofacial Pain, with Connecticut & NY TMJ.

“Twitching is commonly thought to be due to either dystonia or epilepsy, but a muscle spasm can also cause twitching, which is usually temporary,” continue Dr. Chandwani.

“In TMJ disorders, twitching can affect the temple, eyes, ears or the jaws; it depends on the muscle or muscles affected by the spasm.

“Facial twitching has also been reported after physical injuries to the face and neck region.”

Just How Does Temporomandibular Joint Disorder Cause Muscles in the Face to Twitch?

Theirry Canuel, CreativeCommons

“There is no proven mechanism of twitching in TMJ disorders,” says Dr. Chandwani.

“It is thought to be a result of irritation to the nerve; it may be related to nerve entrapment by the muscles which has shown to be occurring in other parts of the body such as the shoulder.

“Once the affected muscle (spasm) is relaxed or released, the twitch usually eases up too.”

Treatment for Muscle Twitching in the Face Caused by “TMJ”

Dr. Chandwani explains, “Treatment for facial twitching ranges from cold compresses, passive and gentle stretching of the affected muscles, muscle relaxant medications or trigger point injection (local anesthetic or botulinum toxin) into the affected muscle.

“Self-treating an occasional twitch is acceptable, but a persistent twitch or a twitch accompanied by any other symptoms should warrant a consultation with either a neurologist or an orofacial pain dentist or primary physician.

“Other causes of facial twitching include some scary causes including neurological disorders, autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis and anxiety disorders.”

Dr. Chandwani has 10+ years of experience focusing on TMJ disorders and sleep disorders.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.
Top image: ©Lorra Garrick
• Yaltho TC, Jankovic J. “The many faces of hemifacial spasm: differential diagnosis of unilateral facial spasms.” Movement Disorders, 2011
• Sunderland S. “Nerves and Nerve Injuries, ed 2.” New York, NY, Churchill Livingstone Inc., 1979