In recent weeks, Bell’s Palsy (Ramsay Hunt syndrome) has garnered attention in the news, most notably affecting high profile celebrities, such as Justin Bieber. But what can we (as medical professionals) do about it?
Bell’s palsy is a form of facial muscle weakness or paralysis, typically isolated on one side of the face. It results from dysfunction of the facial nerve, also known as the 7th cranial nerve. The facial nerve controls the muscles of facial expression, such as eye-blinking and closing. It carries nerve impulses to tear glands, salivary glands, and conveys taste sensations from the anterior 2/3 of the tongue. The malfunction to the facial nerve is thought to result from its inflammation. Symptoms develop suddenly without warning usually within a couple of days and can range from mild weakness to total paralysis of one side of face muscles. Other symptoms may include drooping of mouth, drooling, inability to close one eye, facial pain or abnormal sensation, distorted sense of taste and intolerance to loud noise and sound.
Those experiencing Bell’s Palsy symptoms usually express a peak of severity after 72 hours from the time of onset. In most cases, muscle weakness can be observed with both upper and lower facial muscles including the forehead, eye lid and mouth. Because bell’s palsy impairs the eye lids ability to close and blink, the affected eye is exposed to drying and potential injury. Patients must keep the eye moist with lubricating eye drops and protected from injury with an eye patch, especially at night. Without treatment, bell’s palsy disappears spontaneously in about 2/3 of people. Symptoms usually start to improve after a few weeks and complete recovery is achieved in about 6 months. Some patients may benefit from physical therapy, facial massage, exercise, from the research reports on acupunture, PBMT(PhootoBioModulation Therapy) and needle-less acupuncture with PBM light can be helpful for the recovery of neuropathy and relieve discomfort. Although most people recover from Bell’s Palsy, about 10 % continue experiencing symptoms throughout their life. From multiple research articles, PBMT (Photobiomodulation Therapy) with Near Infrared light (850 and 940 nm) have shown to be beneficial. For more info. On this topic visit our blog section and research library.
Choi, J. E. (2020). Photobiomodulation therapy in recovery of peripheral facial nerve damage. Medical Lasers; Engineering, Basic Research, and Clinical Application, 9(2), 89-94.
Alayat, M. S. M., Elsodany, A. M., & El Fiky, A. A. R. (2014). Efficacy of high and low level laser therapy in the treatment of Bell's palsy: a randomized double blind placebo-controlled trial. Lasers in medical science, 29(1), 335-342.
Yamada, H., Yamanaka, Y., Orihara, H., & Ogawa, H. (1995). A preliminary clinical study comparing the effect of low level laser therapy (LLLT) and corticosteroid therapy in the treatment of facial palsy. Laser Therapy, 7(4), 157-162.