Facial paralysis

March 2017


Definition


Facial paralysis results in a partial or total loss of the motor capabilities of the face. This phenomenon is related to a facial nerve that activates the motor muscles of the face. There are two types of facial paralysis: peripheral paralysis and central palsy, according to the location of the nerve damage. Central facial palsy is caused by brain damage, such as a stroke, trauma or a brain tumor. As for peripheral paralysis, it may be secondary to infection, an inflammatory disease such as multiple sclerosis, trauma, compression of a nerve by a tumor, or other causes. In some cases, no cause is found: we speak of idiopathic facial paralysis or frigore, whose recovery is usually spontaneous in a few weeks.

Symptoms


The symptoms of facial paralysis are:
  • absence of or reduced movement on the affected side of the face;
  • lowered corner of the mouth;
  • inability to inflate the cheeks or whistle;
  • decrease in the amount of saliva or tears produced;
  • difficulty speaking;
  • disorders of mastication.

In the case of paralysis coming from the brain, only the lower half of the face is affected. However, the entire face is paralyzed in the case of lesion blocking a peripheral nerve route. We can distinguish between these two sources making the patient close his eyes: in the peripheral palsy, the eye will not completely close on the affected side.

Diagnosis


Simply observing the patient helps to make the diagnosis of facial paralysis. The difficulty comes from the distinction between central or peripheral palsy, and sometimes additional tests are needed, such as brain imaging or other more specific exams.

Treatment


Facial paralysis requires a case-by-case treatment.

Related

Original article published by . Translated by Jeff.
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