Facial Motion Disorders

Also known as: oral movement disorders, facial movement disorders, facial nerve palsy, facial tics.

What are facial motion disorders?

In order to make facial expressions, (e.g. smiling or closing one's eyes) the brain sends a signal to the muscles of our face through the 7th cranial nerve called the facial nerve. A fairly large number of different conditions affect facial muscle movement which may be absent (paralysis), weak (partial paralysis or paresis) or abnormal (involuntary movements-synkinesis) facial motility.

What causes facial motion disorders?

Damage to the facial nerve (7th cranial nerve) which causes the abnormalities occurs from a variety of causes-some congenital (present at or shortly after birth, like intrauterine position/pressure, birth trauma or congenital absence of an important part of the nerve complex which may be isolated or part of a number of genetic syndromes); while others are acquired later in life (e.g.: as a result of traumatic damage to the nerve, following surgery for cancer, infections, head injury, cut nerve, or as a result of other inflammations).

What are the symptoms of facial motion disorders?

Symptoms can range based on the nature and severity of the disorder from no/partial movement on one or both sides of the face, drooping of the eye and mouth, inability to smile, or raise the eyebrows, difficulty with chewing/ swallowing or speaking.

What are facial motion disorder care options?

There are a variety of surgical techniques which can help improve appearance and symptoms of facial motion disorders. Botox injections can also play a secondary role in treating unwanted contractions of the facial muscles.

Follow-up care after surgery is valuable and may include eye lubrication, occupational therapy to strengthen muscle recovery and other potentially valuable techniques which your Nicklaus Hospital care team will discuss with you. 

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: October 10, 2023 04:31 PM

Pediatric Neurology

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