Bell’s palsy is the most common cause of facial paralysis and results from a dysfunction of the cranial nerve VII, more commonly known as the facial nerve. People affected by Bell’s palsy are unable to control facial muscles on the affected side and in many cases, the eye can’t be closed. This type of paralysis most commonly occurs overnight and most people suffering from Bell’s palsy start to regain their normal facial function within three weeks of its onset.
The symptoms of Bell’s palsy can be quite varied, with some people noticing a mild numbness of the face, whilst other people suffer paralysis to one side of the face and extremely rarely, it can result in total facial paralysis. The most common recommended treatment for Bell’s palsy is Prednisolone, a steroid which helps to reduce inflammation and help speed up recovery. In most cases, sufferers are advised to take Prednisolone tablets twice a day for ten days.
Physiotherapy for Bell’s Palsy
Most people recover within a relatively short period of time, however, if they have not fully recovered within three months, further treatments are required as there is a risk of extensive nerve damage. In some cases, Physiotherapy can help to re-educate and re-sensitise the affected nerves.
Physiotherapy treatment of Bell’s palsy can include:
• Strengthening exercises
• Facial massage
Physiotherapists will always treat each person as an individual, depending on how they are affected by Bell’s palsy. To help stimulate the nerves, and help to maintain and strengthen the affected facial muscles, a range of different exercises can be taught. By re-educating the affected muscles, patients stand to prevent permanent contractures. As the symptoms can range considerably in severity, so to can the exercises specified to treat Bell’s palsy.
As well as providing treatments to help in strengthening the muscles and increasing the sensitivity of the nerves, physiotherapists can also assist in pain relief.
Before physiotherapy exercises
Before starting exercises that are prescribed by a physiotherapist, patients can help to stimulate their facial muscles, particularly those around the cheek, lips and tongue, by rubbing an ice cube wrapped in a damp cloth across their face; from the lips, across the cheek and to the ear. To stimulate the inside of the mouth, the cloth can be removed and the ice can be used to stroke the inside of the cheek, along with the lips and tongue.
At Resolve Physiotherapy, our senior physiotherapist Andy is highly experienced in treating people suffering from Bell’s palsy and helping to improve facial function. If you have been affected by Bell’s palsy and your doctor has recommended that physiotherapy could help to improve your recovery, you can call 0121 293 0237 to book an appointment with Andy.