Facial Paralysis

Facial paralysis involves a loss of voluntary muscle movement within the face. The facial nerve stretches down each side of the face and allows a person to laugh, cry, smile or frown when functioning properly. Facial paralysis occurs when a person is unable to move all or some of the muscles on one or both sides of the face. Facial paralysis may be the result of damage to the facial nerve or to the area of the brain that sends signals to the muscle of the face. This may be the result of a stroke or caused by a brain tumor, infection, trauma, Lyme disease or Bell's palsy.

Symptoms of Facial Paralysis

Patients with facial paralysis may experience symptoms such as:

  • Drooping of the face
  • Difficulty making facial expressions
  • Twitching
  • Drooling
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste

In some cases, people who experience facial paralysis may not be able to close their eye lids.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Facial Paralysis

To determine the cause of facial paralysis, a physical examination is performed and bloods test are administered. In addition, the following diagnostic tests may be performed:

  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • Electromyography

Treatment for facial paralysis depends on the underlying cause of the condition. Facial paralysis caused by infection or Bell's palsy may dissipate without any treatment in a few weeks time. If necessary, treatment may include medication, physical therapy or surgery to relieve pressure on the facial nerve or to repair a severely damaged facial nerve. It is important to maintain the health of the eye when the facial nerve is paralyzed. If the eye cannot close, the use of protective glasses or patches and drops to keep the eye moisturized, may be recommended.

Additional Resources