Different communities across different geographical location have over time used superstition to try and give meaning to involuntary cheek twitching. The meaning contradicts, as most of this interpretation will depend on the traditional values and beliefs of the communities the interpretation was made for.
Cheek twitching meaning
Left or right cheek twitching also referred to as hemifacial spasm is defined as the involuntary or uncontrolled contraction of the facial muscles. The twitching in most cases occurs in one side of the face. It can occur either on the left side or the right side of the face. Twitching is involuntary to mean it is done without will or conscious control.
Hemifacial spasm is also called tic convulsive, the contraction causing the twitching is controlled by the facial nerve. The facial nerve controlling the contraction is seventh cranial nerve, the nerve originates at the brainstem and exits the skull below the ear where it separates into five main branches.
The facial nerve that causes the contraction that leads to the twitching is basically a motor nerve. What that means is that it controls muscles that move the eyebrows, close the eyes and is also responsible for moving the mouth and lips.
Majority of cheek twitching cases will start near the eye and progresses down the face over time. Some cases of the twitching will, however, start near the cheek and progress upwards. Twitching on cheek face, lips or eyebrow is in not painful. It can, however, be embarrassing as it interferes with normal facial expressing and with your vision.
Hemifacial twitching is rare, with a majority of those affected being people older than 44. The condition is also common in women that in men. A common cause of the twitching is the compression of the facial nerve by the anterior inferior cerebellar artery. This nerve begins at the brainstem. The compression causes your facial nerves to misfire, this is what leads to the contraction that causes the twitching.
Left cheek twitching meaning
Left cheek twitching may be interpreted to mean differently depending on the geographical location of those trying to interpret the twitching. Most cultures around the world hold different myths that attempt to interpret the meaning on cheek twitching.
The superstitious interpretation of cheek twitching is an ancient practice that has been carried from generation to generation. Some of the superstitions will contradict, for example, in China left cheek, eye or eyelid twitching is interpreted to mean bad luck or omen, in Indian, left cheek twitching is a seen as a sign of good luck.
Right cheek twitching meaning
Right cheek twitching is interpreted to mean the opposite of the left eye twitching, that is to say for the case of china where left cheek twitching means bad luck, right cheek was believed to be a sign good luck, fortune, and success. In India on the other hand, some communities believe that when your right cheek or facial side twitched, it was a sign of bad omen, luck or misfortunes.
Regardless of the side the twitching occurs, facial twitching will have the following symptoms:
- Spontaneous and unexplained contraction of the cheek muscles
- The twitching can originate on the cheeks and spread to other parts of face
- It could also start in other parts of face (lips, eye, eyebrow) and end up on the cheek
- You are more likely to experience a curling sensation on the cheeks depending on the side of cheek the twitching occurs
- For regular cheek twitching, it is possible to notice minor population of the cheek
- Tingling, numb and frozen sensation on cheek
- Depending on what the underlying cause of the twitching is, you are more likely experience repeated twitching occurring in different intervals.
Why is my facial cheek twitching? Causes
Twitching, spasms or flickering of the facial muscles or cheek which is the sudden movement of the muscles can be caused by an array of conditions. Facial cheek twitching is involuntary, that means it occurs without your control. It is, therefore, correct to say that the twitching can either normal or serious depending on what the underlying cause of the twitching is.
Here are some of the possible causes of facial cheek twitching:
1. Hemifacial spasm
Hemifacial spasm is a common cause of cheek twitching, it is a nervous system disorder in which the muscles on one side of the face twitch involuntarily [mayo clinic]. The condition can occur when a blood vessel is touching a facial nerve, due to a facial nerve injury or tumor or may just happen for no reason at all.
Hemifacial spasm is a rare neuromuscular disease marked by the irregular and involuntary muscle contractions. Facial muscles are controlled by the facial nerve. This nerve originates at the brainstem and exits the skull below the ear where it separates into five main branches. This condition usually takes two form, typical and atypical.
In typical form, the twitching will start in the lower eyelid and spread and progress to the whole lid, then muscles around lips and in the cheek bone area. In the atypical hemifacial spasm, the reverse occurs. This disorder is common in both males and females. It is, however, more common in middle-aged and elderly women.
2. Can twitching be caused by anxiety?
Yes, anxiety or stress is another common cause of facial spasm or twitching. Behaving apprehensively stresses the body. When your body becomes overly stressed it cause the nervous system to have erratically. This can cause the nerve impulses to fire erratically. Given that our muscles are controlled by nerves, an erratically behaving nervous system can cause the muscles to twitch.
Reducing your general levels of stress is the best way to eliminate anxiety which will, in turn, reduce cheek twitching on either side of your face. Reducing stress can take long than most people think, when the body fully recovers from stress-response hyperstimulation, the burning and itching skin sensation will completely subside. Anxiety can be very serious, you need to seek immediate medical attention if you notice the following symptoms:
- Severe chest pain or discomfort
- Weak legs or general feeling of fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- A feeling that your heart is pounding or racing
- Sudden uncontrolled sweating
- Difficulties concentrating
- Stomach distress
- Numbness on part of the skin or body
3. Injury of the facial nerve
Injury of the facial nerve is another common cause of cheek twitching or hemifacial spasm. A nerve injury is an injury to the nervous tissue. Nerve injuries or damages lacks a single classification system that can describe the many variations of the nerve injuries. Most system defining nerve injuries will attempt to correlate the degree of injury with symptoms, pathology, and prognosis.
4. A tumor or blood vessel compressing a nerve
A tumor or a blood vessel compress a nerve is also a possible cause of cheek twitching. A blood vessel compressing a nerve will lead to a condition known as trigeminal neuralgia. This is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal or the 5th cranial nerve. The 5th cranial nerve is one of the most distributed nerves in the head.
Trigeminal neuralgia is a form of a disorder characterized by constant aching, burning and stabbing pain. A compressing of these nerve by a blood vessel causes the wearing away and damaging to the protective coating around the nerve. The symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia occur in people with multiple sclerosis (a condition that causes the deterioration of the trigeminal nerve’s myelin sheath).
When the cause of the cheek twitching is trigeminal neuralgia caused by blood vessel compressing a facial nerve, you are likely to experience the following symptoms:
- Pain that varies from sudden, severe, stabbing to constant depending on the type of trigeminal neuralgia
- Aching and burning sensation
- Intense flashes of pain triggered by vibration of contact with the cheek
- Attacks that stops for a period of time then return
There is a variety of treatment option available for people with trigeminal neuralgia. Your doctor can easily manage and treat trigeminal neuralgia with medication, injection or surgery. Do to suffer in silence, seek professional health care as soon as you notice the pain and twitching persist for more than a week.
5. Bell’s palsy
Bell’s palsy, a common cause of facial paralysis is a condition that causes temporary weakness of the facial muscles on one side of the face. It is a type of facial paralysis that results in an inability to control the facial muscles on the affected side of the face.
Common symptoms of this disorder can vary from mild to severe. The symptoms will include, muscles twitching, weakness or total loss of the ability to move the affected side of the face. Other symptoms will include:
- Dropping eyelid
- Sudden change in taste
- Severe or moderate pain around ear
- Increased sensitivity to sound
- Weakness or paralysis of one side of face
- Excessive tearing or dry eye
- Numbness on the affected side of face
The actual cause of Bell’s palsy is not clear, most of the cases are however believed to be caused by herpes virus which causes cold sores. With this condition, a nerve that controls the muscles on one side of the face can be damaged by inflammation.
6. General fatigue
Muscles twitching can also be caused by fatigue. Fatigue can result from mental or physical exertion or illness. If the twitching in either side of your face is caused by fatigue then it is considered normal and can clear when you rest.
Fatigue is a common complaint, here are some of the simple ways to boost energy and fight fatigue.
- Do same small physical activities, Kerry j. Stewart a professor of medicine and clinical and research exercise physiology at John Hopkins University School of Medicine say that Exercise has consistently been linked to improving vigor and overall quality of life.
- Adopt some relaxing techniques such as yoga
- You also need to drink plenty of water to remain hydrated. Dehydration zaps energy and impairs the physical performance. Dehydration has also been shown to decrease alertness and concentration
- Get to bed early, sleep can help you relax and reduce general fatigue.
7. Excessive coffee
Caffeine overdose which occurs when you take in a lot of coffee can cause major health issues including irregular heartbeat and seizures. The recommended amount of caffeine is usually 4oo mg per day for healthy adults.
Coffee overdose can be shown by the following symptoms:
- Dizziness, headache, fever and increased thirst
- Chest pains
- Irregular heartbeat
- Uncontrolled muscle movements
- Convulsions (sudden movement of a limb caused by the involuntary contraction of muscles)
8. Other possible causes of cheek twitching
Apart from the above causes, other possible causes will include the following:
- Certain medication
- Facial tic
- Tourette syndrome
- Right, left cheek twitching stroke
- Tremor syndrome
- Alcohol and cigarettes withdrawal
- Damage and irritation of the facial nerves
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Parkinson disease
Superstitions related to twitching of the left cheek muscle
Twitching relates to a lot of superstition that tries to explain why the phenomena occur. Superstition is a belief that is not justified by evidence or reason. This belief is passed down from one generation to the other. Most of the superstitions that try to explain different such phenomena are considered a bad omen. As science and technology progress, most of the superstitions continue to lose their hold in the minds of most people.
Left upper cheek twitching
The interpretation of cheek twitching will vary from one geographical location to the other. The meaning or interpretation will also vary depending on what part of the cheek twitches. Left upper cheek twitching is interpreted as a sign of good luck. Some people interpret left cheek twitching as a sign of bad luck.
It is true therefore to say that the interpretation of the twitching will not only depend on your geographical location but also your traditional and cultural belief. In most African community, for example, it is believed that when you meet an individual twitching the left eye or cheek and you look at him or her, then that could cause you to develop a fungal infection on tongue such that, you could develop a boil.
Left upper cheek twitching in most African communities has over time been linked to myths. Most of these community view twitching as an indication of negative perception towards the achievement of others.
In Chinese myths, left cheek, eye or eyelid twitching is associated with good luck, such as waiting for the fortune or good news. When the twitching is on the right side, however, it is interpreted to mean bad luck.
Some community in China also believes that left cheek twitch can show that you are about to cry, indicating that a bad thing that could cause you to cry is about to happen. The twitching of the left upper cheek could also be a possible sign of people gossiping about you. In Chinese myths, the interpretation of the myth will also depend on the time of the day the twitching occurs.
In India, the interpretation of the twitching is taken a notch higher. Apart from the side of the face the twitching occurs, Indians superstitions try to interpret the twitching depending on the part of the eye that twitches, the gender of the person and the side of the eye, left or right.
The Indian interpretation is opposite to that of the Chinese, a twitching of the right cheek or eye is interpreted to mean good luck is coming your way. The contradiction is that, if the right cheek twitching occurs in men, it is a sign of bad omen, men with the right eye, eyelid or cheek twitching are considered to have misfortunes in Indian.
As mentioned, Indians will also depend on what the part of eye twitches. A left eye pupil twitch is said to be a sign of good luck. A twitch in the middle of the eye is seen as a sign to get money, an involuntary twitch on the left eyelid is a sign of misfortune. When the twitching occurs on the lower part of the eye it is interpreted to mean you will spend a lot of money.
Treatment for face muscle twitching
Twitching is normal and will not require any treatment, however, when the twitching becomes chronic or persist for more than a week or two, then treatment will be required. Treating the condition will also depend on the underlying cause of the twitching. The options to treat a cheek twitching will include the following:
Medication, your health care provider will prescribe anti-conversant drugs that help block the firing of the nerve. He or she may also prescribe muscle relaxants, these drugs can be successful in treating mild case but cause side effects.
Botox injection is also commonly used to treat this kind of twitching. Botox is a protein that causes muscles paralysis by blocking the electrical messages that cause the muscles to move. Botox blocks the release of acetylcholine, this prevents the muscles from contracting as the message to do so is blocked.
In case the medication and injection fail to control the spasm, a surgical procedure called microvascular decompression can be carried out to relieve the nerve compression.
To relieve twitching on eye, eyelid, eyebrows and cheek, you need to:
- Make sure you have enough rest
- Relax our eyes and facial muscles by applying a cold or warm compress once in a while
- Make sure your eyes are well lubricated and your facial skin is well moisten
- Maintain proper nutrients to keep your eyes healthy and your skin nourished
- Avoid straining your eyes, this will help prevent against eye twitch
Sources and references
- Muscle twitching painless, legs, face, arm: http://symptomchecker.webmd.com/multiple-symptoms?symptoms=muscle-twitching-(painless)%7Cmuscle-twitching-(painless)%7Cmuscle-twitching-(painless)&symptomids=340%7C340%7C340&locations=5%7C40%7C52
- Cheek muscles twitching: http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Neurology/cheek-muscle-twitching/show/297268
- Hemifacial spasm (uncontrollable muscle contraction in the face): http://www.empowher.com/hemifacial-spasm/content/hemifacial-spasm-uncontrollable-muscle-contraction-face
- Twitching of body parts superstitions: http://www.dreamozone.com/index.php/explore-more/twitching-of-body-parts
- Hemifacila spasm (tic convulsif): http://www.mayfieldclinic.com/PE-HFS.htm