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Bell’s Palsy

 

Bells palsy is a condition caused by trauma to the 7th cranial nerve that weakens or paralyzes one side of the facial muscles.  It is often misconceived as a stroke, it is in fact the most common cause of facial paralysis.  Approximately 0.02% of the worldwide population and 1 of every 5000 people suffer from the disorder every year.
 
Causes of Bell's Palsy
 
The exact cause of Bell's Palsy is still unknown.  Most scientists now believe that a viral infection such as viral meningitis or common cold sore virus- herpes simplex, causes the disorder when the facial nerve swells and is inflamed due to the infection.
 
Who is at greater risk?
 
Usually older people are more likely to be afflicted, but children are not immune to it although they tend to recover well.  Diabetics are 4 times more likely to develop Bells Palsy, and conditions that compromise the immune system such as HIV or sarciodosis increase the possibility of this disorder to occur and recur.
 
What are the signs and symptoms?
 
Signs/ Symptoms of Bell's Palsy ranges from mild weakness to total paralysis and may include:
 
-Twitching
-Weakness or paralysis of one side of the face
-Pain in the mastiod region
-Tear flow
-Drooping eyelid or corner of the mouth
-Dry eyes or mouth, reduced sense of taste
 
The symptoms usually begin suddenly and reach their peak within 48 hours.
 
Treatment of Bell's Palsy
 
Treatment includes medication, PT and acupuncture
 
Medication:
 
-Acylovir: to fight viral infections
-Prednisone: to reduce inflammation and swelling
 
Physical Therapy (PT):
 
-Moist heat massage
-Facial muscle stimulation (ice, electrolytes)
-Facial muscle exercises
-Protection of eye ball (due to loss of blinking)  using eye patch and artificial tears
-Acupuncture
 
Prognosis of Bell's Palsy
 
Prognosis of Bell's Palsy is good.  80% of patients recover completely within three to six months even without treatment.  If untreated, 20% of cases have long term residual problems such as muscle weakness, muscle spasm and facial asymmetry.
 
Exercises for Bell's Palsy
 
Goal: Re-educate facial muscles
 
-Do these exercises in front of a mirror, so that you can build up facial symmetry and muscle strength
-For these exercises, do three sets of 10 repetitions, for each repetition hold for five seconds.   
 
1. Attempt to whistle
2. raise eyebrows and wrinkle forehead
3. Protrude your lips (like kissing)
4. Wrinkle your nose
5. Close your eyes tightly
6. Smile
 
If there is any question regarding the brochure, please contact our physical therapist.
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