Bell's Palsy recovery and residual effects

Posted , 15 users are following.

Bell's Palsy is more common than people think, I suffered from it in January 2015, I woke up to a face that didn't work on the left side. After doing some stroke tests on myself I was confident I had Bell's Palsy. I went to hospital and was prescribed the typical treatment of steroids.

3 weeks later and I had full control of my face again. However I know that being able to move my face did not mean I had fully recovered.

Recovery

Recovery from Bell's Palsy can take months, depending on the severity of the nerve damage. My full recovery took 7 weeks (relatively fast) I know people who have taken 2 months to regain movement.

After you regain movement there are a few things you can do to speed up the recovery process.

Apply a fairly warm compress to the effected side, focus on the area behind your ear and side of the face. Use gentle massage to stimulate the nerves.

Reoccurring attacks are more likely during the recovery process so be sure to stay on the prescribed treatment until you have regained movement for at least 2 weeks.

Residual effects

For those who have had Bell's Palsy the aftereffects can be mild to severe.

In most cases the common problems that follow are twitching and localised weakness (this may come and go) in some cases you may get synkinesis where you involuntary move one part of you face whil meaning to move another foe example, when you smile your eyebrow may move.

Some may get anxiety towards bell's in a way that any twitching or weakness will depress and put the sufferer into a panic, calling for a doctor immediately.

Rest assured that Bell's Palsy is very common and the chance of a reoccurrence is slim, most sufferers will have to deal with Palsy once and only once however if there is going to be a reoccurrence most will get the next attack in 5-10 years of the first.

You can also experience phantom Palsy (not medically named) where past sufferers will cause weakness in the face due to constantly moving it to check if the illness has returned.

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  • Posted

    I have had Bell's Palsy 3 times since I was 23, I am now 34, the most recent being in 2011. Since the first time I began having headaches. Most are on the affected side(each time has affected the same side) and are quite frequent. More than 5 in a week. I was curious if you knew if gabapentin could be helpful in keeping them at bay. The last time I was diagnosed I was given it for pain routinely for 2 weeks, since nothing else helped. I have yet to bring this up to my pcp, since I wanted to look into it and she hasn't been my pcp through any of the episodes.

    Thank you

    • Posted

           Hi Mia. I have read that the majority of Bell's Palsy sufferers are migraine sufferers. I myself have been a migraine sufferer since I was about 8 years old and was struck with Bell's Palsy twice - once at  the age of 13 and again in 2015 at the age of 42. I think far more in-depth research needs to be done on the correlation between migraines and many other neurological illnesses such as depression etc. 

           As far as the frequency of your Bell's Palsy attacks, it sounds like something more is going on. It definitely should not be occurring so frequently. There are other diseases which mimic the symptoms of Bell's Palsy and doctors can easily misdiagnose you since the symptoms are so similar. I urge you to get a second opinion and have other tests done, such as an MRI to be on the safe side. 

  • Posted

    Thank you for joining this forum.  I started it over 2 years ago.  I was disapointed with the lack of information that I was receiving from any Doctor.  No one had any answers.  I saw at least 9 Drs. over a 2 year period.  Neurologist, plastic surgeon, opthomologist, another plastic surgeon, another neurologist, physical therapist, and 2 eye lid surgeries, and a lower lid surgery.  My right eye was smaller and the surgery did little to correct it.  I am left with no forehead movement, no smile,  and just lopsided 3 1/2 years later.  I get stares everywhere I go from little kids to adults.  This is the worst disease ever.  Can't they come up with something to help us?  I hear about electrical stimulation does that work, or acupunture? 

  • Posted

    I am 6 months into recovery following Bell's palsy symptoms linked to Shingles ( RHS) in my face. Both cases were severe. My palsy started to improve week 6 slowly. I have a referral to a Bells Palsy unit at a local hospital, as I have partial paralysis still with my eyelid function and mouth. 

    Is it normal to start getting head pain / mild swelling and skin drooping over the eyelids? It started a week ago and is getting gradually worse, making me feel as if I can't fully open my eyes ( worse on palsy side), that and the head pain. How can I get some relief , are there any tests I should have done that haven't?

    I should add that ive had MRIs done ( normal) , and nerve testing, which shows no axonal long term problems. The nerve function controlling my eyelid has residual weakness / chronic.

    thanks for any advice

     

  • Posted

    i had bells 11 years ago but my concern is the residual weakness which on really bad says is visibly evident the lopsided smile smaller eye which distresses me sometimes, but that is a small detail compared to the pain of the drooping eye and the pain of the nerve behind my ear. Does anybody also have these symptoms and is there any remedy for this. I think doctors dont really understand my pain, some think i imagine it and have been often told its in my head. I got bells when i was pregnant and it was complete paralysis. My daughter when she was born also inherited the "lazy eye" . Now i also grt weakness in my left hand and left leg dont know if its a result of the nerve paralysis or what. Would be grateful for any help. Have scored the internet to no avail. I cant concentrate as well as i did before i had the palsy, cant speak as fast as i used to, cant seem to focus in my life and unfortunately am the sole breadwinner and need to get my act together to perform well at work. Have been told to pray for healing and since i was little have always believed in God's goodness. I believe God gave us our fellow medicine men to help us, but just that this neutological issues seem a bit complex. I have some goid days where i basically hsvd no pain at all but when i have other illnesses like now i have anaemia then the palsy comes back hard and wont stop. Any help is sincerely appreciated.

    • Posted

      Bell's Palsy is the medical term for the 7th cranial nerve being compressed resulting in hemifacial paralysis or in rare cases full facial paralysis. Was your both sides or just one?

      If you are noticing numbness or weakness in other parts, especially in arms, fingers, hands, feet and toes then I would consider having a few nerve tests to see if all is good. Pregnancy puts the body under incredible stress and general idiopathic swelling of nerves and tissue is to be expected. However for this to continue after birth is unusual. Pain to me indicates improper healing of the Nerves, so to try and minimise the effects, try to keep your face warm, nerves hate being cold and when cold are more likely to malfunction and send a pain signal instead of a temperature signal. Damaged nerves are more prone to this small issue and the nerve in extreme cases can shut down, causing, you guessed it.. paralysis. So...

      If it's cold wear a hat, scarf.. bundle up.

      Use vitamin B6 supplements to aid in the upkeep of the nerve network.

      Lay off the coffee/red bull.

      Caffein is bad. It's okay in small irregular doses but if you have too much it can decay nerves like sugar does teeth.

      Learn to spot the right pain...

      If the pain you feel is sharp, or ache like, it's nothing to do with palsy. If the pain is in any way tingly, hot, prickly.. fuzzy? Then treat with ibuprofen and get a heat pack on that right away.

      Bell's Palsy can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety, in a lot of cases patients will trigger a phantom palsy where they cause pain, weakness and loss of sensation through anxiety. This is in no way "in your head" the symptoms are very real but they are self inflicted. I know having children is also stressful but you really, honestly need to relax and take a little time to focus on you and enjoy yourself.

      To deal with any pain you can use over the counter medication..

      If you need some very fast pain relief ask your doctor for high dose ibuprofen or paracetamol and take the tablets with caffeine, I'd recommend an energy shot this will not do your nerves much good if you go to far with the caffeine but it will give you very fast pain relief.. just remember caffein bad.. very bad, small irregular doses!

      Hope I helped, I'm not a neurological specialists so I'm afraid I can't give a super clear answer but I hope I have managed to give you at least an open door for a easier life.

      Regards

      Mark

  • Posted

    Hi! I am new to this site. I am from the Philippines. I had bells palsy last september 18, 2017 and this is the fifth month of my recovery. I have some residual effects like heaviness of the right eye and tight cheek (affected area). As of this writing, it’s been 2 days that i am suffering something like twitching internally at the left side of my head. I cannot totally explain it. I am too conscious that i always look at the mirror and honestly i have developed phantom palsy per se. I appreciate it if you would give me some advices on how to deal with these residual effects. Thanks. 
  • Posted

    Excellant advice.  I started this forum 4 years ago when I came down with Bell's.  Unfortunately I have not recovered as well as the rest of you.  It is a constant battle for me.  I get many unwanted looks and stares.

  • Posted

    Excellant advice.  I started this forum 4 years ago when I came down with Bell's.  Unfortunately I have not recovered as well as the rest of you.  It is a constant battle for me.  I get many unwanted looks and stares.

    • Posted

      It is very unfortunate to hear your recovery has been less that perfect. As you may know after a certain amount of time the effects become irreversible. I have seen a fair few come in on day 1 with bells and return 3 months later showing no sign of recovery. The only thing I suggest when the recovery process in unsuccessful is to adapt and live life to the best of their ability. Obviously losing your smile or ability to blink both eyes is in no way fun, you need to remember that as long as you can be happy and enjoy your life you have beaten Bell's Palsy regardless of what scars were left behind. Scars of course being reduced movement in this case.

      Mark

  • Posted

    I have had Bells’ Palsy for 6 weeks and have regained some movement. I was fortunate that I was always able to close my eye and didn’t have to deal with taping it shut or anything. I’m able to smile a bit now and my face is alot better. The pain behind my ear was awful but that has  gotten better. The soreness in my face is also better. The numbness on my tongue had gone away for the most part,  but I feel now that my tongue numbness is getting a bit worse. Also sometimes. if I make certain gestures like puckering my lips, I feel like someone is pulling on my lower lip. Not sure if all this is part of the healing process but would like to know tonnnow if anyone has had their tongue numbness return after 6 Weeks. This is making me anxious because I don’t know if this means it’s getting worse. Please help rolleyes
    • Posted

      I wouldn't worry yet.  I lost my sense of taste for several months, twice.

    • Posted

      Did your tongue go numb again a second time and did you lose your sense of taste once you had regained it? I have researched this everywhere and haven’t heard this happening to anyone else so aim worried.
    • Posted

      My tongue didn't go numb.  I just didn't have any sense of taste.  It was awful, didn't enjoy eating at all.  I should have lost weight but I didn't.  This affects everyone differently.  I did lose taste once I regained it.  Don't fret about this, there is nothing you can do to change it.  Stress may only make it worse. 

    • Posted

      Thank you! It is an awful condition and so frustrating because there’s really not much we can do. My sense of taste is off again which is so unpleasant. I thought I was done with that part of it but I guess not.  I’m under a lot of stress right now and I’m sure it isn’t helping my BP. I’m in the process of moving among a lot of other things so I will try not to dwell on this numb tongue and taste thing. Thanks you so much for responding. It’s very isolating because only people who have gone through this can really understand how we feel.
    • Posted

      You will notice ups and downs during recovery. And I'm sorry to say but twitching is a very common after effect of having bell's. I got it a while back.. about 3 and a half years ago and my face still twitches. If I eat a big meal, after about 10 minutes my lip starts pulsing very slowly. The feeling is very bizarre. As your facial nerves heal the new connections may cause delays in areas getting feeling and movement. Your tongue may feel very different in 24 hours, but you're showing good progress. Just remember nerves heal at the same speed your hair grows, so it's a real waiting game

    • Posted

      Thank you for your response. I feel good about my progress but I had gotten rid of my tongue numbness and my sense of taste was back to normal, and now, after a few weeks, I’m getting those annoying symptoms again. I guess I will have to wait it out. 
    • Posted

      If your face still twitches and your lip pulses doesn't that mean you have never fully recovered?  Can you smile normally?

    • Posted

      Well if you look at it from a technical perspective then yes you could say I never fully recovered. But from a medical standpoint the pressure on my facial nerve was released and I regained all movement and sensation and yes I also got my smile back (not that I use it often). The twitches are caused by scarring on the nerves, damaged tissue is more dense and doesn't stretch as well as undamaged tissue. So after any nerve damage there will nearly always be some twitching, numbness, rapid pulsing or spasms. Sometimes there are no residual effects but in 95% of cases, bell's palsy will leave you with some form of hemifacial spasms or numbness.

    • Posted

      That's all you can do at the moment. If you do feel there is no improvement within a week do see a doctor. There may be an underlying cause. Did you take medication or did you try to tackle the condition without steroids or antiviral drugs?

    • Posted

      I did take the steroids but no antiviral. I have no insurance at the moment so I’m hoping I don’t have to go to the doctor. I did go to the hospital in the beginning and had a CT scan which showed nothing. What other underlying condition could there be? 
    • Posted

      Bell's Palsy is for the most part idiopathic, meaning there is no obvious cause, some say stress, pregnancy, cold air directly in the ear, minor shock, herpes simplex.. the list is actually endless. The most common cause that is known is an infection close to the area. I believe I got mine through an ear infection. How long did you take the steroids for?

      Curiously it's during recovery of infection that you're more likely to get some form of palsy it really does depend on where the infection was. For example an ingrown toenail can swell and you can get numbness in the surrounding area. That's palsy.

      The best thing you can do is to try and maintain a steady dose of ant inflammation meds. Ibuprofen is very effective for this. 2 tablets 4 times a day will work to reduce swelling. Ibuprofen is available without prescription. If you see no improvement after a week, seek further advice from your doctor. Another thing is vitamin B6.. this is essential for helping nerves regenerate. Reduce sugary foods and drinks and AVOID caffeine, small irregular doses are fine but if you can, just cut caffeine out completely.

    • Posted

      Boy, I  am learning so much about this disease.  My Drs. that I saw, about 10 in all, had no information.  1 physical therapist, 2 plastic surgeons, 1 ENT, 2 Opthamologists, 2 neurologists and 2 MRI's.  I wish I had known about the B6.  Nobody offered that information.  I am left with, can't raise my eyebrow, can't smile, one smaller looking eye and a twitch here and there.  An ER Dr. that I met while with my husband in the hospital said to keep massaging.  Is "massaging" a forever thing?  I've done botox several times but have given up on that.

    • Posted

      I also had a terrible ear infection and sinuses when it started. I was given antibiotics and also the steroids I took Methylprwdnisolone for 6 days. The pack that you taper offf gradually. I was also under great stress at the time. My son was taking is MCAT for medschool and we were in the process of finding a new home. I’m still in the moving process so  I haven’t gotten much rest. I do drink 2 cups of coffee  a day and I have a bit of a sweet tooth. I didn’t know those things were bad for you. I take vitamin B12 so I’m going to get some B6 then. Thank you for all your wonderful advice.’

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