Facial paralysis involves a loss of voluntary muscle movement within the face. The facial nerve stretches down each side of the face and controls the ability to show expression, smile, cry, wink, etc. A facial nerve that does not function properly can be a socially and psychologically devastating physical defect.
What causes facial paralysis?
There are numerous causes of facial nerve disorder. Some examples include:
- Trauma such as birth trauma, skull base fractures, middle ear injuries, facial injuries
- Nervous system disease, e.g. stroke
- Infection of the ear or face or herpes zoster of the facial nerve (Ramsey Hunt Syndrome)
- Tumors such as acoustic neuroma, parotid tumors, schwannoma
- Toxins due to alcoholism or carbon monoxide poisoning
- Bell’s Palsy
How is facial paralysis treated?
Although many cases resolve spontaneously, there are times when treatment is extensive. Depending on the cause of the paralysis, the treatment may include medication, physical therapy or surgery to relieve pressure on the facial nerve.