Bell’s palsy is a neurological condition in which causes the muscles of one side of the face become weak or paralyzed. It causes drooping of one side of the face or become stiff. Bell’s Palsy is temporary and usually recover within few weeks up to 6 months. Severity of Bell’s Palsy vary from person to person.
In Bell’s Palsy, the seventh cranial nerve (facial nerve) that supplies and controls the facial muscles are inflamed. Hence, it becomes swollen and compressed which results in facial muscle weakness or paralyzed.
How bell’s palsy is different from stroke?
Bell’s palsy affects only the one side of the facial muscles whereas stroke would cause muscle weakness in the limbs as well.
Causes of Bell’s Palsy:
- Viral infection such as Herpes simplex virus (cold sores), Herpes zoster virus (chicken pox) , respiratory infections
- Impaired Immunity that is caused by stress, sleeping deprivation or autoimmune disease
Individuals with diabetes, hypertension, respiratory illness and pregnant women also impose a higher risk to get Bell’s Palsy.
- Sudden weakness or paralysis of one side of the face
- Drooping of one side of the face and mouth
- Having difficulty to close the eyes completely, causing dryness or uncontrollable tears
- Having difficulty in eating and drinking
Other symptoms include:
- Pain around the jaw or behind the ears
- Loss of taste or having abnormal sensation of the face
How can Physiotherapy help in Bell’s Palsy?
- To initiate facial movement:
- Self-massage and stretching to improve blood circulation
- Ice stroking
- Active-assisted range of motion exercise
- Facilitate facial muscles:
- Facial nerve stimulation and mirror feedback
- Kabat Technique to strengthen facial muscles
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation technique (PNF)
Chuah Siu Shien
Your Physio Penang