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What are the Different Types of Facial Paralysis Treatment?

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  • Written By: Maggie J. Hall
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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Facial paralysis treatment includes anti-infective medications, electrical stimulation and physical therapy, along with other treatment modalities, depending on whether the condition is a result of infection, stroke, traumatic injury or abnormal cell growth. Healthcare providers employ certain facial paralysis treatments during the course of the ailment, and other treatments require sufficient healing before implementation. Physicians assess the onset and duration of paralysis along with possible contributing illnesses and the extent of the immobility. Physical and verbal evaluations along with blood tests and imaging devices provide a definitive diagnosis.

Hundreds of thousands of people annually experience a condition known as Bell’s palsy. The malady is most often associated with bacterial or viral infections. During the infectious process, the cranial and facial nerves become inflamed. The affected side of the face has an overall droopy appearance, and patients are unable to blink or close the affected eye, have an inability to control salivation and exhibit a crooked smile. In this situation, facial paralysis treatment consists of a patch to protect the affected eye, anti-infective medications to combat causative microorganisms and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids that reduce inflammation and facial pain.

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Most people who have this condition recover within a few weeks, but some patients do not experience complete healing until months later. The nerve injury never heals in approximately 1 percent of Bell’s palsy sufferers. These patients require other types of facial paralysis treatment, as do those who have facial immobility because of injury, stroke or tumors. Massage improves circulation while stimulating the affected nerve and muscle tissue. Physical therapy combines massage, biofeedback and mirror therapy, which assists patients in retraining and strengthening weakened muscles.

Facial paralysis treatment involving biofeedback or electromyography (EMG) feedback detects impulse signals relayed by various facial muscles. Some muscles are overactive, some emit small impulses, and others transmit no impulse at all. Using this information, therapists teach patients various exercises designed to strengthen flaccid or weakened muscles. Patients perform facial exercises while looking into a mirror or while connected to a biofeedback device. Either method monitors patient progress concerning stimulation of specific muscle groups.

Muscles work in pairs — while one muscle stretches, the counterpart relaxes. Neurologists often use injections of onabotulinumtoxinA, which is more commonly known by the brand name Botox®, for facial paralysis treatment as a means of relaxing stretched muscles. By relaxing hyperactive muscles, the opposite muscle gains extension ability. Some neurologists incorporate electrical stimulation as part of paralysis treatment. After an appropriate healing time, practitioners stimulate muscle and nerve tissue mobility by introducing small amounts of electrical current.

In extreme cases of muscle and nerve injury, cosmetic surgeons graft tissue from other parts of the body. By lengthening or replacing damaged muscle and nerve tissue, patients experience a higher degree of function. They also regain a more normal physical appearance.

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