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Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Help to fix spasm of the lower lip


 Proxyto - Wed Jan 02, 2008 8:29 am

I have been having spasms in my lower lip for the past 15yrs. I used to be a nervous teenager and constantly had this thought in my head that people were looking at me, and it didnt help that I was always being made fun of that I had large lips and so that made me always try to contour my lips in public to make them seem smaller. After a while i was so conscious of my lips that I found I would lick them continously whenever I was in public places.

One day in class I noticed a sudden jerk in my lower lip, it happened then and stopped and I thought nothing of it, but then I noticed that whenever I was nervous in public my lower lip would begin to spasm. And then it began to progress along after a while, and I noticed that when the spasms would start I would have difficulty speaking. I would be having a perfectly normal conversation one minute and the moment the spasms start, I would begin to slur and have great difficulty pronouncing words. Almost like someone who suddenly finds himself walking on ice with slippery shoes, I'd begin to find it hard to speak. It would be quite obvious to me as well as the person I'm speaking to that something is not right. To help the situation I would have to hold my jaw or even begin to finger it and then I can talk somewhat normally again.

The strange thing is the way the spasms start now. If I were to completely forget the fact that my lips spasms, I could go for weeks without any disturbance but then maybe I hop on a train, or I'm in the shopping mall and the thought suddenly occurs to me and I would immediately begin to feel my lower lip getting tense and then the spasms would start again.

It seems to be an irritating, yet very present part of my life, it interfers with every thing, from making friends to finding a job. I have tried magnesium supplements and even relied for a while on sensory tricks like chewing gum but none of these offers a great deal of assistance. I am scheduled to see a neurologist in a few weeks time. I am hoping there is some sort of treatment for this. Is there anyway you can help me, any advice would be immensely appreciated.
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:10 pm

User avatar Hello Proxyto,

I am suspicious that what is going on with your lip may be a conversion disorder. A conversion disorder is when the brain is causing physical symptoms. In your case, I suspect that the anxiety due to concern about your lips has begun to cause these twitches. The fact that it starts when you think about it and that it doesn't happen for prolonged periods of time when you don't think about it also support this.

Please don't think that I am saying you are "faking" or that it is all in your head. The brain is very powerful and can cause physical manifestations of mental stresses so I have no doubt that what you are describing is real. The treatment for these disorders is to address the underlying cause. I would recommend you see your primary care doctor or a psychiatrist about your anxiety. In many cases, anxiety can be helped with a medication, either on a long term or short term basis.

Seeing the neurologist is a good idea because the other possibility is a focal seizure disorder. The neurologist can determine if any testing, such as an EEG is needed. The neurologist may also be willing to address the anxiety issue. They can also help determine if this may be a conversion disorder.

Best wishes.

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