Bell’s Palsy is a facial weakness or paralysis of usually one side of the face that presents with facial drooping. The onset is fairly quickly and inflammation of the facial nerve (7th cranial nerve) causes facial drooping, eye drooping and mouth drooping. Pain may present behind the ear and numbness or tingling on the face can occur. The facial nerve swells and becomes inflamed. Going to the emergency room helps rule out a stroke. The faster you receive treatment, the better the recovery rate. Usually a CT scan or MRI is done with lab work. Usually the treatment is steroids to decrease the inflammation and anti-viral medication to treat the possible Herpes simplex virus. Keeping your eyes protected with a eye shield and the use of artifical tears is advised, if your eye is affected.
As adjunct supportive therapy, acupuncture, manual lymphatic massage, and energy kinesiology can be helpful. Acupuncture is done to assist with the pain and to keep the nerve stimulated. Manual lymphatic massage is a specialized massage that opens the lymphatic drainage ports in the face and neck to decrease the swelling around the nerve and in the face. The swelling occurs due to the inflammation of the facial nerve and the body’s response to inflammation is to release lymphatic fluid in the subcutaneous layer of the skin. With the pooling of the fluid in the face, as a result of gravity, the fluid pools downward and pulls on the skin also causing trauma to the facial nerve. Lymphatic massage, also called “manual lymphatic drainage” opens the drains and slowly and lightly moves the excess fluid out of the face and neck area. The client will feel like their sinuses are draining behind the throat. The light massage also quiets the facial nerve. Several lymphatic massages will be necessary to keep the swelling down by increasing the drainage flow rate and thinning the lymphatic fluid by the repetitive massage strokes. Clients will become more comfortable with less fluid weight on the face and the light massage.
Energy kinesiology is a holistic modality based on the Chinese Meridian system, to turn on facial muscles by rubbing neurolymphatic, neurovascular and neuro-emotional points to turn the traumatized facial muscles back on. By turning the muscles back on with increasing the flow of lymph, vascular flows, and “chi” flow assists in energizing the muscles to recover from the inflammation and less pain may be felt.
I highly recommend adding acupuncture, lymphatic massage and energy kinesiology to your treatment plan for Bell’s Palsy for a more comfortable recovery.