© 2003 Andrew Thompson
Bell's Palsy is a condition caused by trauma to the 7th cranial nerve.
It is named for Sir Charles Bell, a nineteenth-century surgeon who was largely responsible for mapping the neural structures of the face.
As a result of this trauma, a person diagnosed with Bell's Palsy may experience paralysis of the facial muscles, or at least, paralysis-like symptoms such as numbness and general muscle weakening.
Since the cause is damage to the facial nerve, Bell's Palsy should not impact on other parts of the body.
While relatively uncommon, around 1 in 5000 people will suffer the effects of Bell's Palsy during their lifetime. It can affect anyone, however those most susceptible are the elderly, diabetics, and people with conditions that cause immunodeficiency, such as HIV.
The rate of the recovery process is dependent on how long it takes forthe nerve to repair itself. It is estimated that approximately 50% of people will recover in a relatively short time, and another 40% will have good recoveries within eighteen months.
It is important throughout the recovery process to keep the muscles moving. This can be achieved by stretching exercises, which your GP can show you.
Acupressure and Shiatsu have also yielded good results in keeping the qi flowing to the nerve and helping to relieve the appearance of the affected muscles.
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