It can be alarming and disconcerting to wake up one day and see in the mirror that your face is drooping on one side. You have no idea what’s going on so you schedule a doctor’s appointment for that morning. Meanwhile you find that when you go to drink your tea it dribbles down your face and there’s this pain that’s evolved behind your ear.
The doctor informs you that you have Bell’s Palsy and like many sufferers of this condition, you have no idea how it arose but that your cranial nerve VII has become damaged somehow and it’s likely that the Bell’s Palsy will disappear in a couple of weeks.
The effects of Bell’s Palsy can be devastating, especially socially. We don’t realize how much we take for granted the impact of our working face; our smile, ability to raise our eyebrows, to close our eyes and to chew. Our facial expressions are so much a part of our personality and way we communicate with the world. It’s not to mention very embarrassing having your eye taped down in order for it to not dry out, dribbling constantly and food trailing out of the corner of your mouth; you end up avoiding going out at all costs which can become very depressing and lonely.
Aside from the effects on one’s social life it can often be uncomfortable and painful with facial stiffness, pain behind or in front of the ear and headaches.
One doesn’t have to be stuck with the pain however, and can make good progress in re-activating the affected nerve to gain more control over the face. EMS machines (electrical muscle stimulation) has found to be an excellent way to treat the effects of Bell’s Palsy. Small electrode pads are attached to areas of the face that need work, the unit is then switched on and tiny electrical impulses contract and relax the muscles; basically a facial work out. One can rest, watch TV, read etc during a treatment. With regular use the nerve and muscles around it can be reactivated quicker. Coupling the EMS machine treatment with a TENS machine treatment can increase effectiveness as the TENS machine relieves pain quite considerably speeding up recovery. TENS machines send soothing pulses via electrode pads along the nerve fibres. The pulses stop pain signals going to the brain AND encourage the body to produce its own natural pain killing chemicals; endorphins and encephalins. These are natural, non-invasive and very effective, one time buy, affordable methods of pain relief and muscle toning for Bell’s Palsy.