And It Does Not Work!
Most people that suffer from Bell’s Palsy will read about or hear about electrical stimulation for treatment of BP
The chance is that they will think of a TENS unit as viable in treating facial paralysis... And IT IS NOT.
TENS unit is for treatment of pain only, NOT to activate and strengthen muscles
The user manuals clearly say to never apply on the face ( that should be your first clue )
The size of the electrode, as with 95% of other type of electrical stimulation units, is not appropriate as it would stimulate too many muscles at once>>>> hence the risk of developing synkinesis since you would be contracting several muscles at once instead of one.
So, all in all, TENS is not a modality that has any benefits in treating BP. And possibly negative effects in reality.
DO NOT USE TENS UNIT TO TREAT BELL’S PALSY!
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What healthcare professionals can help me when I am dealing with Bell’s Palsy?
First and foremost, you should be evaluated by a physician. Most people will see their primary care physician/family doctor, or an Emergency or urgent care department physician. The goal here should be for a correct Bell’s Palsy diagnosis and prescription of steroids and antivirals.
Consulting with a facial specialist within the first 3 weeks after onset, especially if there are no signs of improvement, should be the next step. You can consult with:
An Otolaryngologist, or ENT( for ear, nose and throat doctor).
An Opthalmologist, especially if your eye is involved, you cannot blink, your eyes is irritated, itchy, red and painful. If your condition goes on for too long, an oculopastic surgeon ophtalmologist should be helpul
Neurologist: there exist many different type of neurologist and subspecialty and of course, I would recommend one with extra facial paralysis and conditions training
Physical / Physio Therapist ( that’s me , ).
I would be particularly picky in finding a PT with experience and training in treating Bell’s Palsy. A normal university PT curriculum does not teach facial muscles rehab to their student. Just ask when you contact them.
If you failed to progress after several months and still suffer with severe paralysis, consulting with a facial plastic surgeon would be helpful as they can help with recovery of facial movements and expressions
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Pierre-Yves Butheau, MPT, CMP has been a physiotherapist for 19 years and has a passion for helping people move better, return from and prevent injuries, as well as improve their function and quality of life. He has a strong interest in addressing the root cause of and treating neuro-musculoskeletal conditions while educating his patients with the knowledge to manage their conditions and prevent recurrence. Pierre also has a niche in treating Bell's palsy and temporomandibular joint dysfunctions.