Complementary therapies in hemifacial spasm and comparison with other movement disorders


  • Disclosure The authors have no financial disclosures or conflicts of interest concerning the research related to the manuscript. Full Financial Disclosures of all Authors for the Past Year: Dr Peeraully, Dr Hameed, Dr Pavanni, Ms Fook-Chong, Ms Cheong and Ms Hussein have no financial disclosures. Dr EK Tan has received funding from National funding agencies in Singapore and honoraria/support from Lunbeck, GSK, Norvatis, and Boehringer Ingelheim. He has also received honoraria from Elsevier and Wiley publishers for editorial work in European Journal of Neurology and Parkinsonism Related Disorders.

Correspondence to:

Eng-King Tan, Department of Neurology, Singapore General Hospital, Outram Road, Singapore 169608, Singapore

Tel.: + 65 6326 5003

Fax: + 65 6220 3321




We determined the prevalence, range and factors influencing the use of complementary therapy among hemifacial spasm patients and compared the patterns of use of complementary therapies across different movement disorders in a systematic pooled analysis of published literature.


A structured questionnaire was administered to 96 hemifacial spasm patients evaluating frequency of complementary therapy use, and factors influencing patients' decision to seek these therapies. We also performed a PubMed search of epidemiology studies on use of complementary therapies in movement disorders.


Fifty-one per cent of patients had tried complementary therapies, of which 47% reported some perceived benefit and 4.1% informed their doctor. Acupuncture (71.4%) and facial massage (17.6%) were most commonly used. Complementary therapy use was associated with greater HFS severity. The mean cost of treatment was about $78 per month.

We identified eight articles on use of complementary therapies in movement disorders; Parkinson's disease (5), Tourette syndrome (2) and dystonia (1). Twenty-five to 88% of patient had tried complementary therapies, of which 32–70% reported some benefit. Trials of acupuncture (2–63%) and massage (7–38%) were reported across the spectrum of movement disorders studied. Mean cost of complementary therapies varied from 43 to 102 USD per month.


Complementary therapies are used by over 50% of HFS patients, and the use is correlated with severity of disease. Despite differences in race, culture and population demographics, acupuncture and massage are used by patients across the spectrum of movement disorders.