Bell's Palsy is a type of paralysis or weakness, of the muscles in the face, and while it can occur at any age, it is less common before age 15 or after age 60.
Typically it will affect some 40,000 Americans each year. While it can strike anyone, it seems to occur more frequently in individuals recovering from viral infections and people with diabetes.
It is believed to be caused by inflammation of the seventh cranial nerve (the facial nerve). This condition, in turn, causes an interruption in the messages the brain sends to the facial muscles and results in facial weakness or paralysis.
In addition to the facial muscles, the nerve also affects tear production, saliva production, taste sensations, and a small bone in the middle of the ear.
Normally, Bell's Palsy affects only one side of the face at a time because there is a pair of facial nerves and each travels through a narrow channel, beneath the ears, to the muscles on each side of the face.
For most of its journey, the nerve is encased in a 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.
Because the facial nerve is complex and, has many functions, damage to the nerve, or a disruption in its function can lead to many problems.
Symptoms of Bell's Palsy can vary from person to person and range in severity from mild weakness to total paralysis. Other symptoms may include drooping of the eyelid, and corner of the mouth, drooling, dryness of the eye or mouth, impairment of taste, and excessive tearing.
Most often, these symptoms, which usually begin suddenly and reach their peak within 48 hours, lead to significant facial distortion.
For most people, Bell's Palsy is temporary. Symptoms usually start to improve within a few weeks, with complete recovery in about six months. A small number of people continue to have some Bell's palsy symptoms for life.
In my 40 years of practice and experience, we have seen specific upper cervical corrections of the atlas vertebrae while aligning the head, skull, and rest of the cervical spine.
Consequently, many Bell's Palsy patients have experienced surprisingly significant improvement in their condition, from this gentle, non-invasive correction we provide our patients.