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What is Bell’s Palsy, and How Does it Impact Me

Bell’s palsy is a sudden, paralysis/weakness on either the right or left side of the face, leading to drooping on the paralyzed side.  Bell’s palsy occurs when the nerve that controls one side of your face is damaged due to trauma or disease, such as diabetes or viral infections like herpes, Lyme’s disease, the Epstein-Barr virus and others. Bell’s palsy can certainly be frightening, and requires expert personalized and compassionate patient care. It is easy to feel scared and panicked, feeling like your identity and beauty are gone, and even more scared that perhaps it won’t come back.  Simple facial expressions are now extremely difficult, and sometimes simple yet essential actions such as eating drinking and talking are impaired. The unaffected “good” side of the face can even start to feel tight or sore. Our expert therapists at Pivotal Physical Therapy understand that it’s not just your head that is hurting, but your self-esteem and self-worth are suffering too. Our non-invasive approach helps treat the symptoms of Bell’s palsy, which include:

What are the common symptoms of Bell’s palsy

  • Headaches
  • Drooling
  • The inability to close your eyelid or blink
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Decreased sense of taste
    • Facial Pain, numbness, sensitivity
  • Ear ringing
  • Jaw pain
  • Muscle spasming of the opposite side

Holistic Treatment of Bell’s Palsy with Physical Therapy

Our holistic approach helps treat the various symptoms of Bell’s palsy and facial paralysis. Treatment focuses on the muscle tone and soft tissue mobility for both sides of the face. In addition to our manual techniques, we also engage in neuromuscular retraining. Regaining normal facial expressions such as closing your eyes, blinking, smiling and frowning are our goals. We understand how your facial muscles, joints, and nerves work together. For instance, your jaw and facial muscles combine for tasks such as chewing, drinking, speaking, singing, and dental hygiene. Not all treatment is hands-on administered by your PT. To speed your recovery, we provide each patient with home exercises to maximize the gains you make during our sessions.  We want you to be an active participant in your rehabilitation. By working together can we truly unlock your maximum potential!

In addition to manual techniques and neuromuscular retraining, and therapeutic exercise, we also use other non-invasive procedures including:

Kinesio Taping®: Pivotal Physical Therapy is proud to stay at the forefront of medical innovation. It enables our physical therapists to use new ways of gaining results during the process. Kinesio Taping® works because supports muscles while performing your activities during sessions.

Mirror feedback: A large part of successful physical therapy lies in the brain. Our minds are capable of much more than we realize. Clinician Guided facial movements and tasks using this technique is designed to trick it into thinking movement occurred when it didn’t. These tasks help re-establish a neural pathway. During this process we emphasize common facial expressions, such as brow lifting, eye squinting, blinking, nostril-flaring, smiling, blowing up cheeks, puckering, and more.

Soft tissue mobilization: Manual soft tissue mobilization and/or manipulation techniques are used to increase blood flow to the weak muscles, as well as to relax the overactive and tense muscles that can potentially occur on the uninvolved side.

Electrical stimulation: Or otherwise known as “E-stim”, helps to gain full muscle functionality, by helping your nerves rediscover the ability of normal conduction.

Patient Education: Educating patients to understand the unique progression of patient’s healing process is essential

What to Expect at Your First Therapy Appointment

Bell’s palsy can be frightening. Many patients believe they’ve suffered a stroke when the symptoms first present. However, it isn’t as dangerous as a stroke. Physical therapy can help. We take great pride in assisting our patients in their recovery from Bell’s palsy. At your evaluation, your therapist would take a detailed history regarding the nature of your Bell’s palsy, as well as take note of any relevant medical history. Your therapist will see the quality of movement on both sides of the face, and will assess the level of dysfunction that is demonstrated. Your therapist would also incorporate screening your head and jaw movements, and your speech patterns. Each patient will exhibit different physical manifestations and based on your physical examination; treatment will commence.

Contact Us Today to Start Your Healing!