For many years, most idiopathic facial nerve palsy was diagnosed as Bell’s palsy. While Bell’s palsy is the most common type of facial nerve palsy or facial paralysis, not all cases are Bell’s palsy. Facial nerve palsy can occur quickly or slowly, depending on the cause and type. It may go away on its own or cause permanent paralysis. It is vital for a thorough diagnosis to be made to determine the best options for treatment, including surgical options if needed.
Facial nerve palsy often involves damage to the facial nerve from a viral infection that causes inflammation of the facial nerves. Herpes simplex virus, Lyme disease, mumps, influenza-B viruses and other medical conditions can cause damage to the facial nerves. Symptoms can appear quickly, as is the case with Bell’s palsy, or slowly over time. Common symptoms include:
- Heaviness or numbness on one side of the face
- One eye will not close or blink
- Drooling, trouble chewing and other mouth dysfunction
- Pain behind the ear or tenderness
- The face looks flat and expressionless
When these symptoms occur, it is vital to get a thorough examination and diagnosis. This may include an MRI, x-rays, lab testing and clinical evaluation.
Treatment for Facial Nerve Palsy
Joshua D. Rosenberg, MD, is one of the top experts in treating facial nerve palsy, with extensive experience in the field. Treatment for facial nerve palsy depends on the patient and is always customized to their needs. With facial nerve palsy, it is common for the nerves to heal over time and begin working correctly in several months. However, if there is permanent damage to the facial nerves, surgery may be required to restore muscle function. Dr. Rosenberg offers eyelid surgery, nerve transfers/grafting and muscle transfers as a few of his treatments for those experiencing ongoing facial paralysis due to nerve damage.
If you have been diagnosed with facial nerve palsy and want to explore treatment options to restore function and improve your appearance, contact Dr. Rosenberg’s office for an appointment.