Other Names for this Disease
- Antoni's palsy
- Bell palsy
- Facial cranial nerve paralysis
- Facial nerve palsy
- Facial palsy
Your QuestionI was diagnosed with Bell's palsy about 2 years ago. Although I was told that the symptoms would resolve within a few months, I continue to have recurrent ear infections and issues with my right eye. What treatments are available for this condition?
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There is no cure or standard course of treatment for Bell's palsy. The most important factor in treatment is to eliminate the source of the nerve damage. Some cases are mild and do not require treatment since the symptoms usually subside on their own within 2 weeks. For others, treatment may include medications such as acyclovir -- used to fight viral infections -- combined with an anti-inflammatory drug such as the steroid prednisone -- used to reduce inflammation and swelling. Analgesics such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen may relieve pain, but because of possible drug interactions, patients should always talk to their doctors before taking any over-the-counter medicines. In general, decompression surgery for Bell's palsy -- to relieve pressure on the nerve -- is controversial and is seldom recommended.
Other therapies that may be useful for some individuals include relaxation techniques, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, biofeedback training, and vitamin therapy (including vitamin B12, B6, and zinc), which may help nerve growth. Other therapies include Botox for synkinesis, hypertonicity and muscle spasms, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, and nerve and muscle grafts and transpositions.
Additional information about the treatment of Bell's palsy can be found at the following link from the Bell's Palsy Information Site: http://www.bellspalsy.ws/treatment.htm
This site also provides a resource which lists treatment centers which offer acute care and/or treatment of longstanding cases of Bell's palsy. Visit the following link to access this list of facilities.
The prognosis for individuals with Bell's palsy is generally very good. The extent of nerve damage determines the extent of recovery. With or without treatment, most individuals begin to get better within 2 weeks after the initial onset of symptoms and recover completely within 3 to 6 months. For some, however, the symptoms may last longer. In a few cases, the symptoms may never completely disappear. In rare cases, the disorder may recur, either on the same or the opposite side of the face.
- Bell's Palsy . National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). 2005; http://www.rarediseases.org/search/rdbdetail_abstract.html?disname=Bell%27s%20Palsy.
- NINDS Bell's Palsy Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). 2009; http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/bells/bells.htm. Accessed 1/12/2010.
- Facial Exercises. Bell's Palsy Information Site. 2008; http://www.bellspalsy.ws/exercise.htm. Accessed 1/12/2010.
- Diels J. Facial Retraining. Bell's Plasy Information Site. 2008; http://www.bellspalsy.ws/retrain.htm. Accessed 1/12/2010.
- Bell's Palsy Fact Sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). 2009; http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/bells/detail_bells.htm. Accessed 1/12/2010.
- Botox for Residuals. Bell's Palsy Information Site. 2008; http://www.bellspalsy.ws/botox.htm. Accessed 1/12/2010.
- Surgery. Bell's Palsy Information Site. 2008; http://www.bellspalsy.ws/surgery.htm. Accessed 1/12/2010.