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Bell's Palsy Treatment in Westminster Denver Colorado

Overview

       Bell’s palsy is a condition that causes sudden weakness in the muscles on one side of the face. In most cases, the weakness is temporary and significantly improves over weeks. The weakness makes half of the face appear to droop. Smiles are one-sided, and the eye on the affected side resists closing.

       Bell’s palsy is also known as acute peripheral facial palsy of unknown cause. It can occur at any age. The exact cause is unknown. Experts think it’s caused by swelling and inflammation of the nerve that controls the muscles on one side of the face. It could be caused by a reaction that occurs after a viral infection.

       Symptoms usually start to improve within a few weeks, with complete recovery in about six months. A small number of people continue to have some Bell’s palsy symptoms for life. Rarely, Bell’s palsy occurs more than once.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Bell’s palsy come on suddenly and may include:

     Rapid onset of mild weakness to total paralysis on one side of your face — occurring within hours to days

     Facial droop and difficulty making facial expressions, such as closing your eye or smiling

     Drooling

     Pain around the jaw or in or behind your ear on the affected side

     Increased sensitivity to sound on the affected side

     Headache

     A loss of taste

     Changes in the amount of tears and saliva you produce

In rare cases, Bell’s palsy can affect the nerves on both sides of your face.

Causes

Although the exact reason Bell’s palsy occurs isn’t clear, it’s often related to having a viral infection. Viruses that have been linked to Bell’s palsy include viruses that cause:

     Cold sores and genital herpes (herpes simplex)

     Chickenpox and shingles (herpes zoster)

     Infectious mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr)

     Cytomegalovirus infections

     Respiratory illnesses (adenovirus)

     German measles (rubella)

     Mumps (mumps virus)

     Flu (influenza B)

     Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (coxsackievirus)

The nerve that controls facial muscles passes through a narrow corridor of bone on its way to the face. In Bell’s palsy, that nerve becomes inflamed and swollen — usually related to a viral infection. Besides facial muscles, the nerve affects tears, saliva, taste and a small bone in the middle of the ear.

Risk factors

Bell’s palsy occurs more often in people who:

     Are pregnant, especially during the third trimester, or who are in the first week after giving birth

     Have an upper respiratory infection, such as the flu or a cold

     Have diabetes

     Have high blood pressure

     Have obesity

Recurrent attacks of Bell’s palsy are rare. But when they do recur, there’s often a family history of recurrent attacks. This suggests that Bell’s palsy might have something to do with your genes.

Complications

A mild case of Bell’s palsy typically disappears within a month. Recovery from a more severe case where the face was completely paralyzed can vary. Complications may include:

     Irreversible damage to your facial nerve.

     Irregular regrowth of nerve fibers. This may result in involuntary contraction of certain muscles when you’re trying to move other muscles (synkinesis). For example, when you smile, the eye on the affected side may close.

     Partial or complete blindness of the eye that won’t close. This is caused by excessive dryness and scratching of the clear protective covering of the eye (cornea).

Diagnosis

There’s no specific test for Bell’s palsy. Your health care provider will look at your face and ask you to move your facial muscles by closing your eyes, lifting your brow, showing your teeth and frowning, among other movements.

Other conditions — such as a stroke, infections, Lyme disease, inflammatory conditions and tumors — can cause facial muscle weakness that mimics Bell’s palsy. If the cause of your symptoms isn’t clear, your health care provider may recommend other tests, including:

     Electromyography (EMG). This test can confirm the presence of nerve damage and determine its severity. An EMG measures the electrical activity of a muscle in response to stimulation. It also measures the nature and speed of the conduction of electrical impulses along a nerve.

     Imaging scans. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) may be needed on occasion to rule out other possible sources of pressure on the facial nerve, such as a tumor or skull fracture.

     Blood tests. There is no blood test for Bell’s palsy. But blood tests can be used to rule out Lyme disease and other infections.

Treatment

       Most people with Bell’s palsy recover fully — with or without treatment. There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for Bell’s palsy. But your health care provider may suggest medications or physical therapy to help speed your recovery. Surgery is rarely an option for Bell’s palsy.

       Because the eye on the affected side doesn’t close, it’s important to take steps to protect and care for that eye. Using lubricating eye drops during the day and an eye ointment at night will help keep your eye moist. Wearing glasses or goggles during the day and an eye patch at night can protect your eye from getting poked or scratched. In severe cases of Bell’s palsy, an eye doctor may need to monitor the eye.

Medications

Commonly used medications to treat Bell’s palsy include:

     Corticosteroids, such as prednisone. These are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. If they can reduce the swelling of the facial nerve, the nerve will fit more comfortably within the bony corridor that surrounds it. Corticosteroids may work best if they’re started within several days of when your symptoms started. Steroids started early improve the likelihood of complete recovery.

     Antiviral drugs. The role of antivirals remains unsettled. Antivirals alone have shown no benefit compared with placebo. Antivirals added to steroids may benefit some people with Bell’s palsy, but this is still unproved.
Despite this, an antiviral drug, such as valacyclovir (Valtrex) or acyclovir (Zovirax), is sometimes given in combination with prednisone in people with severe facial palsy..

Surgery

       In the past, decompression surgery was used to relieve the pressure on the facial nerve by opening the bony passage that the nerve passes through. Today, decompression surgery isn’t recommended. Facial nerve injury and permanent hearing loss are possible risks associated with this surgery.

       Rarely, plastic surgery may be needed to correct lasting facial nerve problems. Facial reanimation surgery helps make the face look more even and may restore facial movement. Examples of this type of surgery include an eyebrow lift, an eyelid lift, facial implants and nerve grafts. Some procedures, such as an eyebrow lift, may need to be repeated after several years.

Our expert providers are experienced and skilled at treating Bell’s Palsy and are your source for expert treatment of Bell’s Palsy in Westminster and Denver Colorado. Not only are we the premier treatment for spine injuries and chiropractic in Westminster and Denver Colorado, but we also specialize in many other advanced treatment techniques such as shockwave, cold laser, graston technique, KT Taping, activator, instrument aided spinal alignments, drop table, toggle, in house rehab services, and on site digital xrays. We are your Premier destination for Bell’s Palsy Treatment in Westminster Colorado and Denver Colorado Chiropractor.