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What is the Treatment for Bell's Palsy?

Unravel the mysteries of Bell's Palsy. Discover effective treatment options, from drug prescriptions like corticosteroids and antiviral drugs to the benefits of physical therapy and surgical interventions.

  • 23 Jan 2024
  • 3 min read
  • 19 views

Bell's palsy is also referred to as acute peripheral facial palsy, and it happens due to an unknown cause. It is an undetermined episode involving facial muscle weakness or paralysis. It begins instantly and may worsen over 48 hours. The condition happens due to facial nerve (7th cranial nerve) damage. The pain and discomfort are often felt on one side of the face and head.

Bell's palsy can occur in individuals of any age, but it's less common in people below 15 years and those over 60 years. 

 

Recovery starts mostly around 2 weeks to 6 months after the start of the symptoms. Most patients with Bell's Palsy recover their full facial expression and strength.



Treatment of Bell’s Palsy

 

The sooner the Bell's Palsy treatment begins, the higher the chance for faster and full recovery. The therapies include:

Drug Prescription

Common drugs prescribed by physicians to treat Bell's Palsy include: 

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medicines that help reduce facial nerve swelling. They work best if the patient starts the prescription within a few days after the onset of the symptoms.

People with the condition are likely to recover quickly and more completely after taking corticosteroids. These drugs tend to reduce inflammation, which most doctors believe could be the cause of Bell's Palsy. Some of the Corticosteroids include Prednisone and oral glucocorticoids.

Antiviral Drugs

When added to steroids, antiviral drugs can benefit some individuals with Bell's Palsy condition. For instance, antivirals like valacyclovir (Valtrex) or acyclovir (Zovirax), given together with prednisone, could work effectively in those with severe facial palsy.

Physical Therapy

Working with a physical therapist to treat Bell's Palsy can be one of the best remedies. The therapist will offer facial exercises that can help reduce the recovery time frame. The physical therapist can train patients how to massage the facial muscles gently. Some exercises recommended to help a Bell's Palsy patient work by

  • Maximising the symmetry of the face
  • Supporting facial movement towards recovery
  • Limiting the restrain of the facial side that's unaffected by the condition
  • Giving some sensation and movement to the affected part of the face to speed recovery

Some of the common facial exercises include:

  • Gently pulling the mouth out to a smiling position using one finger at the corner of the weakened side of the mouth.
  • Lifting the eyebrow and closing the eyelid gently using one finger
  • Surgical Options

The doctor will often recommend surgery as the last Bell's Palsy treatment option. This is only suggested if a patient's symptoms fail to improve months after initiating other treatments. 

The surgery option may include:

  • The transfer of muscles from other body areas to the face
  • Weight insertion into the eyelid to enable it to close
  • Facial nerve decompression, although doctors rarely recommend this option. It involves a nerve sheath opening alongside a bony canal to help ease pressure on the facial nerves.

Also read:

Conclusion

There's nothing to fear if we or our loved ones are diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. It is not permanent, and most people recover fully. For Bell's Palsy treatment, the physician might recommend steroids. This is especially true if we have a new-onset case of the disorder.

Once diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, it's important to start treatment almost immediately. This is the best way to ensure faster and complete recovery. It's also important to ensure we have the right health insurance that provides financial support for Bell's Palsy treatment. 

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