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Facial Spasms after radiation

Posts: 9
Joined: Feb 2013

Hello all.  Recently joined.  My wife found this forum for me and I'm looking for some answers.  I'm a 54yo male dianoised with tongue/tonsil cancer in 02/11.  I went through 2 weeks or chemo (weeks 1 and 4) and a total of 36 radiation treatments.  My lower wisdom teeth were removed 4 weeks after completing radiation treatment.  Was diagnoised with ORN of the left lower jaw where the bulk of the radiation was.  Underwent 20 hyberbaric treatments.  After 18 months it was decided that I needed debridement of the jaw bone.  That was done 3 weeks ago along with having 2 additional teeth removed.  10 more hyperbaric treatments.  Here's my question.  I've been having 'facial spasms' on the left side of my face (jaw to neck) now for about 6 months.  Recently the spams have gotten more locaized and intense (directly in the center of my left jaw. At times the are so strong I find it difficult to talk.  Almost painful.  I'm looking for possible solutions?  Accupuncture, quinine tablets.  Anyone have any ideas?   

longtermsurvivor's picture
Posts: 1845
Joined: Mar 2010

Sounds like your jaw has caught a bunch of hurt with treatment.  Here's hoping your debridement and HBO are successful.  Another poster, Mike Metz has been through pretty extensive HBO and multiple debridements for the same situation.  Lots of us have problems with spasm after radiation.  Some find it quite painful, others just a nuisance.  There are ways of treating it; your radiation oncologist should be able to help direct you.  There is physical therapy targeted to treat the spasm.  You can also have botox injections to the offending muscle groups.  Severl of us have had success with a a variety of loosening exercises.  Ratface, Greg and I have all used tai chi warm up exercises.  For us, this has been very successful in aleviating these spasms.  I do notice if I don't do them for a few weeks, the spasms tend to come back.   Hope this helps.



Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

Myself and many here have some symptoms similar to yours, though much less in frequency. Occasionally I'll have a cramp or spasm that is almost like a charlie horse in intensity, lasting only a few seconds, and depending on moving my head/neck a certain way.

Pat covered more specifics that himself and a few others have found for relief...

Anyways, welcome aboard...

Best ~ John

ToBeGolden's picture
Posts: 695
Joined: Aug 2010

Please, have a blood test for calcium levels. Low calcium causes/produces facial spasms. The parathyroids, in the neck, control calcium and these glands can be damaged by radiation/surgery. If the parathyroids are/were damaged, the spasms can be treated with calcium (and Vit D) supplements.

Please do not guess. A simple blood test will determine whether you have low calcium.

I suffer from this condition, and often need urgent calcium IV- Infusions. It is a serious condition, but easily diagnosed. In most cases, you will just have an unnecessary blood draw. Hope your calcium levels are Okay, but better check to be sure. Rick.

FYI: A neurologist would tap (roughly) at the side of you cheeks and in front of your ears. Tap all over. If very low calcium, this will trigger facial spasms. If you can trigger spasms, goto an urgent care center, if not an ER. (Or call an advice nurse.)

Posts: 9
Joined: Feb 2013

Thanks to everyone who responded.  Just had blood drawn so I'll mention it to my GP when I see him on Monday.  These really are uncomfortable and I have to keep telling everyone that I haven't been drinking in the middle of the day................................

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