Massage can help alleviate the symptoms of Bell Palsy and maintain flexibility and circulation in the affected muscles.
What is Bell Palsy?
This condition is the result of damage or impairment to the facial nerve. The facial nerve controls motor functions in the face, including facial expression, blinking, and some of your sensation of taste.
The facial nerve begins in the brain and passes through several narrow spaces, including a small opening just behind your earlobe. When this nerve becomes irritated or inflamed inside one of these small openings it can become damaged.
Because this is a peripheral nerve, it has the ability to regenerate, making this condition temporary in more than 85% of cases.
Who Gets Bell Palsy?
This is a fairly common affliction, affecting around 40,000 people in the US every year. It is most common among young and middle-aged adults.
Cases are commonly seen in patients who are pregnant, have diabetes, or have some autoimmune disorder.
Signs and Symptoms
The classic signs of Bell Palsy can include:
- Sudden flaccid (limp) paralysis of both the upper and lower muscles of the face
- Difficulty eating or drinking
- Difficulty closing one eye
- Marked increase or decrease in saliva production
- No loss of sensation in the affected area.
In rare instances, damage to the eye can occur if blinking and tear production is affected.
It is important to be evaluated by your primary care physician or at an urgent care if you begin exhibiting symptoms. Your doctor will take a full medical history and can run tests to determine the cause of the nerve damage. The causes can be mechanical (impingement of the nerve) or biological, such as, a bacterial or viral infection.
Most cases of Bell Palsy eventually resolve themselves without medications or other medical treatments. You may be prescribed a steroid and/or an anti-inflammatory. You may also be directed to cover the affected eye to prevent it from drying out or becoming scratched by dust.
Massage for Bell Palsy
Massage is recommended to stretch and mobilize facial muscles until the nerve has repaired itself. It is important to promote circulation which will encourage nerve repair.
Deep tissue techniques to the muscles of the jaw, suboccipitals, and facial connective tissues are highly recommended.