Nervous System Channel
Topics
Medications
Quicklinks
Related Channels

Bell's Palsy

The most common cause of facial paralysis, Bell's palsy results from damage or trauma to a facial nerve. Symptoms usually begin suddenly and may include twitching, weakness, or paralysis on one or both sides of the face. Treatment for the condition may include medications, physical therapy, or eye protection. Most people with Bell's palsy recover completely within three to six months.

What Is Bell's Palsy?

Bell's palsy is a form of temporary facial paralysis resulting from damage or trauma to a facial nerve. Generally, the condition affects only one of the two facial nerves and one side of the face; however, in rare cases, it can affect both sides.
 
Bell's palsy is named for Sir Charles Bell, a nineteenth-century Scottish surgeon who was the first to describe the condition. Bell's palsy, which is not related to stroke, is the most common cause of facial paralysis.
 

Understanding the Facial Nerves

The facial nerve (also called the seventh cranial nerve) is a paired structure that travels through a narrow, bony canal (called the fallopian canal) in the skull, beneath the ear, to the muscles on each side of the face. For most of its journey, the nerve is encased in this bony shell.
 
Each facial nerve directs the muscles on one side of the face, including those that control eye blinking and closing, and facial expressions such as smiling and frowning. The facial nerve also carries nerve impulses to the:
 
  • Lacrimal (tear) glands
  • Saliva glands
  • Muscles of a small bone in the middle of the ear, called the stapes.
     
The facial nerve also transmits taste sensations from the tongue.
 
When Bell's palsy occurs, the function of the facial nerve is disrupted, causing an interruption in the messages the brain sends to the facial muscles. This interruption results in facial weakness or paralysis.
 
Know the Signs - Concussion Safety

Information on Bell's Palsy

Referring Pages:
Terms of Use
Advertise with Us
Contact Us
About eMedTV
Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2006-2017 Clinaero, Inc.
eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.