Facial paralysis derives from an affectation of the facial nerve, which is responsible for the mobility of almost all the muscles of the face, besides innervating the lacrimal glands and collecting the sensitivity of the taste buds of the tongue. That is why its affectation causes difficulty to move the face correctly, decrease or excess of tearing and taste alteration.
There are several types of facial paralysis, but the most frequent is Bell's palsy , which lasts 4 to 8 weeks. It is an idiopathic paralysis (that is, its causes are unknown), although today it is thought to be related to the herpes simplex virus type 1. Other causes that can cause facial paralysis are Herpes Zoster, ear infections, trauma and tumors.
How to treat a facial paralysis?
For Bell's palsy , the initial treatment is corticosteroids, although the specialist may request complementary studies (such as magnetic resonance imaging, or X-rays), especially if you suspect that there is a cause other than Bell's palsy.. The electromyogram is another complementary test that helps to know the extent of the nerve injury.
Another important care is to protect the cornea of the eye from the beginning of the paralysis by means of artificial tears, epithelizing ointment and night occlusion with patch.
If the paralysis does not recover completely, you should go to a doctor specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation to follow specific exercises and even, sometimes, receive infiltrations with botulinum toxin.. These exercises are the basis for the treatment of a facial paralysis that has left sequels, and their learning will again provide control of the movement of the face.
Even so, it is very important that the patient take into account what movements should be avoided to avoid muscle overload or send erroneous information to the injured facial nerve. For example, you should not eat chewing gum, inflate balloons or perform "mass movements" (move many muscles of the face to make a single gesture).
What complications are there?
In some cases, recovery from facial paralysis is incomplete because the nerve is damaged and is not able to function normally. Complications may appear such as hemifacial spasm (when some muscles are contracted permanently) or synkinesias (when, when performing a voluntary movement, another unwanted one appears).
Fortunately, both complications can be improved with the appropriate rehabilitative treatment: facial neuromuscular reeducation exercises or, in some cases, infiltrations with botulinum toxin.