Facial Paralysis Care and Treatment
Why Choose Treatment for Facial Paralysis at University of Colorado Hospital?
University of Colorado Hospital's otolaryngology clinic provides the most up-to-date, sophisticated, and comprehensive approach to the diagnosis and management of facial disorders available in the Rocky Mountain region.
When you choose UCH for care, you can be sure that your medical team brings both experience and expertise to your diagnosis and to your treatment.
What is Facial Paralysis?
Facial paralysis refers to the complete loss of voluntary muscle movement on one side of the face. The condition can cause pain as well as changes in the patient's physical appearance and senses of taste, sight and smell.
By far the most common cause is Bell's palsy, a viral attack on the facial nerve that causes it to become inflamed. Bell's palsy affects about 11 in 1,000 persons.
Facial paralysis can also be caused by:
- Stroke (cutoff of blood flow to the brain)
- Brain tumor
- Inflammation of lumps of cells in the face (sarcoidosis)
- Lyme disease (inflammatory disease caused by a tick bite)
- Other viruses
Getting a Second Opinion About Facial Paralysis
The physicians and staff of the Ear, Nose and Throat team at University of Colorado Hospital are happy to provide second opinions for patients in the community who have symptoms of or a diagnosis of facial paralysis.
Additional Facial Paralysis Resources
The Bell's Palsy Research Foundation
Tests & Treatments
Tests for Facial Paralysis
Tests for facial paralysis often begin with a blood screening that will include:
- Complete blood count
- Blood sugar levels
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR, a measure of inflammation)
- Lyme test for Lyme disease
Your doctor may order other tests to examine the muscles, tissues and bone structure of the head and neck, including:
- Computerized tomography (CT). A scan of the head.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This scanning technology produces detailed images.
- Electromyography measures the health of the nerves controlling the muscles
Treatments for Facial Paralysis
Your doctor may be able to treat your facial paralysis with medications, including:
- Steroids. Steroids reduce the inflammation in the facial nerve.
- Antiviral medications. Antiviral medications stop the replication of viruses that may be causing the paralysis.
- Botulinum toxin (a protein) injections. Botulinum toxin injections weaken clenched or spasming muscles in the face.
- Nerve decompression relieves pressure on the facial nerve.
- Nerve repair and grafting reconnects breaks in the facial nerve that are disrupting signals to the muscles in the face.
Therapies for Facial Paralysis
Physical therapy can help patients to improve muscular control by retraining the muscles of the face with various exercises.