Named after Scottish anatomist Charles Bell, Bell’s Palsy is a condition that causes a temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles in the face. It can occur when the nerve that controls the facial muscles becomes inflamed, swollen, or compressed. Physiotherapy for facial paralysis is the key treatment option for this condition. Although Bell’s Palsy can happen at any age, the condition is more common among people between ages of 16 and 60.
Symptoms of Facial Paralysis or Bell’s Palsy
The symptoms of Bell’s Palsy can appear one to two weeks after a person has had cold, ear infection, or eye infection. They usually appear abruptly, and the patient may notice them when he/ she wakes up in the morning or tries to eat or drink.
Bell’s Palsy is marked by a droopy appearance on one side of the face and the inability to open or close the eye on the affected side. In rare cases, Bell’s Palsy may affect both sides of the face.
Other signs and symptoms of Bell’s Palsy include:
- Difficulty eating and drinking
- An inability to make facial expressions, such as smiling or frowning
- Facial weakness
- Muscle twitches in the face
- Dry eye and mouth
- Sensitivity to sound
- Irritation of the eye on the involved side
Contact your doctor immediately if you develop any of these symptoms. The patient should never self-diagnose Bell’s Palsy. The symptoms can be similar to those of other serious conditions, such as a stroke or brain tumor.
Causes of Bell’s Palsy
Bell’s palsy occurs when the seventh cranial nerve becomes swollen or compressed, causing facial weakness or paralysis. The exact cause of this damage is unknown, but many experts believe it’s triggered by a viral infection.
The viruses/bacteria that have been linked to the development of Bell’s Palsy include:
- Herpes simplex, which causes cold sores and genital herpes
- HIV, which damages the immune system
- Sarcoidosis, which causes organ inflammation
- Herpes zoster virus, which causes chickenpox and shingles
- Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis
- Lyme disease, which is a bacterial infection caused by infected ticks
Risk factors for Bell’s Palsy are:
- Lung infection
- Family history
Treatment options for Bell’s Palsy
In most cases, Bell’s Palsy symptoms improve without treatment. However, it can take several weeks or months for the muscles in your face to regain their normal strength.
The following treatments are very useful and effective in recovery.
- Corticosteroid drugs – which reduce inflammation
- Antiviral or antibacterial medication
- Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to help relieve mild pain
- Eye drops
However, before taking any of these medicines, you must consult your doctor to know in details about their side effects and whether they are conducive for your condition or not.
- An eye patch (for your dry eye)
- A warm, moist towel over your face to relieve pain
- Facial massage
- Physiotherapy for facial paralysis
The role of Physiotherapy for facial paralysis
Bell’s Palsy physiotherapy treatment includes exercises to improve the functioning of your facial muscles and remove your discomfort. Performing various Bell’s Palsy exercises daily can help prevent further shrinking of the facial muscles. Physiotherapy for facial paralysis works on the patient’s muscles of the face, eyes, nose, lips, and other facial parts to promote facial movements effectively. And, the best part is that they can be performed within the comfort and privacy of your home.
5 Useful Exercises that are part of Physiotherapy for facial paralysis
While performing various facial exercises for Bell’s Palsy, please sit in front of your mirror.
1. Eyebrow Exercises
- See in the mirror, raise your eyebrows, and hold them in the raised state for 10 -15 seconds. Continue holding your eyebrow in the raised state till your mouth’s corner or cheek begins to move. Wrinkle your forehead.
- Put your four fingertips on your affected eyebrow, and rub by making a firm stroke with your fingertips up to your hairline.
- Make a frowning expression and try to draw your eyebrows down.
- Lip Exercises
- Curl your upper lip up. Then raise it and try to protrude your upper lip.
- Close and lightly squeeze both your lips. Then, release them and again lightly squeeze both the lips. Try to maintain the lip compression till your eyelid starts moving. During this exercise, focus on relaxing the eye muscles. Initially, your eye movements might occur. Following this regularly, you will be able to perform these lip movements without involving the eye.
- Pucker your both the lips and maintain lip squeeze for some time.
- Snarl by stretching both your lips.
- Now smile. While smiling, focus on your smile till your eyelid is not involved. Carefully observe your eye and lower eyelid. Also, watch your neck muscle and try not to pop it out while you are smiling
- First launch a smiling expression without showing your teeth up and then smile by showing your teeth
- Speaking actions also help improve lip movements. Practice speaking words that involve letters B, M, F, and P slowly and softly, and repeat them by glancing in the mirror continuously. Keep your eyelids open while you are speaking
- Blow your cheeks out with air in them. Now, hold your air-puffed lips shut ensuring that no air escapes out. Hold your air-filled cheeks for 3 to 5 seconds
- Nose Exercises
- Wrinkle up your nose.
- Make sniffling action
- Take a deep breath through your nostrils and try to flare your nostrils
- Eye Exercises
- Compress your eyes making them narrow as if you are trying to look at the sun
- Look downwards. Keep your neck straight and without bending it look downwards, this helps in exercising your eye and eyelids
- Place the back of your index finger on your closed eyelid and use the opposite hand along your eyebrow in order to stretch your eyebrow upwards. This exercise helps your affected eyelid to relax and prevent it from becoming too stiff.
- Gently press your eyelids together
- Close your one eye gently and then the other. Make sure you do not push it
- Open your eyes without involving the movement of your eyebrow
- Neck and Chin Exercises
- Tilt the head to one side and slightly backwards, then hold it for ten seconds and slowly get back to normal. Follow the same on the other side. This neck exercise stretches your neck muscle and improves its flexibility.
- Wrinkle or harden your chin
- Like a boxing professional, stick out your chin
While performing physiotherapy for facial paralysis at home, to relieve your discomfort resulting due to Bell’s Palsy, you also need to take some precautions given below:
- Try chewing your food by involving both the sides of your mouth. Doing so helps you regain normal facial movement patterns
- Make sure you do not chew your gums as it exercises the wrong muscles and may also make you suffer needlessly from synkinesis
Physiotherapy for facial paralysis at home
Bell’s Palsy physiotherapy treatment at home has helped many patients recover from facial pain and can be the right treatment for you too. A comprehensive Bell’s Palsy physiotherapy treatment plan gives you the freedom to perform the exercises within the safety, privacy & comfort of your home. Trusted by many patients, HealthCare atHOME’s home physiotherapy treatment is a great option for people looking to lead a pain free life. To avail expert physiotherapy for facial paralysis at home, contact us at 1800-102-4224.