What is Bell’s Palsy?
Bell’s palsy is a temporary condition that causes certain muscles in your face to weaken or become paralyzed. With Bell’s palsy, it appears as if half of your face is droopy and you can only smile with one side of your mouth. Usually, you cannot close the eye on that side of your face, and the lower eyelid may also turn outward (called ectropion). This condition can lead to excessive dry eye and tearing in the affected eye.
A person might have Bell’s Palsy first thing in the morning – they wake up and find that one side of the face does not move. Bell’s palsy must not be confused with cerebral palsy, a completely different condition.
Most people who suddenly experience symptoms think they are having a stroke. However, if the weakness or paralysis only affects the face it is more likely to be Bell’s palsy. Approximately 40,000 Americans develop Bell’s palsy each year.
What are the symptoms of Bell’s palsy?
The facial nerves control blinking, opening and closing of the eyes, smiling, salivation, lacrimation (production of tears), and frowning. They also supply the stapes muscles with nerves. The stapes is a bone in the ear which is involved in our ability to hear. When the facial muscle malfunctions, the following symptoms may emerge – symptoms of Bell’s palsy:
- Sudden paralysis/weakness in one side of the face.
- It may be difficult or impossible to close one of the eyelids.
- Irritation in the eye because it does not blink and becomes too dry. Changes in the amount of tears the eye produces.
- Parts of the face may droop, such as one side of the mouth.
- Drooling from one side of the mouth. The amount of saliva produced changes.
- Difficulty with facial expressions.
- Sense of taste may become altered.
- An affected ear may lead to sensitivity to sound (hyperacusis). Sounds seem louder.
- Pain in front or behind the ear on the affected side.
What Causes Bell’s Palsy?
A lot of times a definitive cause is hard to find. Viral infections such as herpes simplex virus (HSV) have been associated with Bell’s palsy. Other causes include: Birth trauma. Temporal bone fracture. Facial trauma. Diabetes. Pregnancy. Acute or chronic otitis media (middle ear infection). Other infections such as mumps, mononucleosis, Lyme disease, and tuberculosis. Toxicity from Thalidomide, tetanus, or carbon monoxide. Tumors such as acoustic neuroma, facial nerve neuroma, fibrous dysplasia, or metastatic tumors from other parts of the body. Multiple sclerosis, and other causes which are not listed here.
What Does the Standard Treatment with a Medical Doctor Usually Consist of?
The standard treatment is to prescribe a corticosteroid medication like prednisone, and to give time for the nerve to heal. The downside of using this drug for an extended period is that it produces many side effects, such as osteoporosis, thinning of the skin, suppression of the immune system, adrenal suppression, fluid retention, high blood sugar and eventual diabetes mellitus, to name a few. Surgical intervention may also be considered.
How Can Chiropractic Help with Bell’s Palsy?
As the facial nerve exits the brainstem and the skull, it passes alongside the first bone in the neck (called the Atlas) on its way to the face. In addition, there is a structure called the Vagus nerve (Cranial nerve X) that also passes in close proximity to the Atlas. The Vagus nerve has many tasks, and one of them is to play a key role in inflammation. Because of this anatomical proximity, the facial nerve and vagus nerves can both lose proper function when there is a misalignment of the Upper Cervical spine. Because of these correlations patients with facial paralysis of all varieties have showed tremendous symptomatic relief from an advanced form of chiropractic care called Activator Methods. As one of only a handful of certified Activator Method chiropractors in Augusta GA, we have had success symptomatically treating patients with Bell’s Palsy. You can contact us for a complimentary consultation, where we can sit down together to determine whether our treatments are appropriate for your specific condition.
The Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic Blog is written by Dr. Mark Huntsman.
Augusta GA Chiropractors Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic provides customized care. Visit our main website at www.georgia-clinic.com for a chiropractor in Augusta GA and a chiropractor in Evans GA that provides customized treatments.
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