My Secret (& Personal Journey) To Overcome Bells Palsy: The Steps To Follow That Worked For Me
In early August 2017, while I was blowing my nose, I started experiencing the first symptoms of a diagnosis most people know really little about. My goal with this post is to shed the light and educate on how to recognize and what to do when you suffer from the neurological condition known as Bell’s Palsy.
Bell’s Palsy is the acute paralysis of several muscles of one side of the face that are innervated by the facial nerve, one of the twelve cranial nerves. The origin of this condition are believed to be viral in origin(herpes simplex and zoster, flu, mononucleosis, german measles…) . Some studies show one is at higher risk of contracting Bell’s Palsy if they are diabetic, pregnant, or having recently experiencing an upper respiratory tract infection.
40 years of age is the prime decade to contract the disease.
This infection leads to a swelling of the cranial nerve. The problem is that the cranial nerve emerge from the stylomastoid foramen on your skull, a tiny orifice just below the ear canal. The pressure put on the nerve by this swelling creates inflammation and leads to that facial paralysis resulting in the inability to close the eye, frown, smile, seal your lips, pucker, whistle or perform any fine motor action with the side of the face affected. Other symptoms includes drooling, decrease sensation on one half of the tongue with decreased ability to taste on that side, numbness on your face/cheek, jaw pain and headaches.
The most urgent symptom that needs to be address ASAP is the inability to close the eye, which will create dryness, excessive tearing and potential damage to your cornea which can results in serious eye and eye sight damages.
In my case, i was blowing my nose when I felt my right jaw locked for about 15sec, with sharp pain due to jaw muscles spasm. These was my first symptoms. The pain quickly went away but my right face felt weird for the rest of that day. It’s not until the next morning that I felt something was very wrong when I looked at myself in mirror and was unable to frown( no wrinkles on forehead), unable to fully close my eye, to whistle and drink without spilling water since my lips would not seal.
If I had not known anything about Bell’s palsy, i could have thought I might have a stroke. One of the key signs for a stroke, or CVA, would have been sudden weakness in limbs on one side of the body. Thankfully, this was not the case.
Bell's palsy is also common in people who contracts Lyme disease and it should be ruled out.
After recognizing these symptoms and becoming pretty confident it was Bell’s palsy, i scheduled a visit with my primary care for the next day and was able to be evaluated and diagnosed officially. This short turn around between first symptoms and medical attention is key since Bell’s palsy involves a nerve injury, for which you never want to wait or postpone care in order to expect prompt recovery. 72 hours is somewhat of a cutoff for faster recovery vs lingering and possible neural damage.
I was prescribed steroids and an antiviral drug which helped reduced my symptoms by 50% in 24 hours.
I also started gently massaging and stretching my face 3 times daily, focusing on stretching my upper eyelid to make my eye close, which is a priority with facial paralysis in order to keep your eye healthy and prevent complications like corneal ulcers, which can lead to blindness.
I documented my symptoms and recovery in the videos below before giving my thoughts on what made me fully recover in 7-10 days.
The average length of symptoms are 2-4 weeks. In the most severe cases, symptoms can linger for up to 6 months.
So if you ever suffer from Bell’s Palsy, remember to act fast in getting the right medical treatment and see a facial specialist physical therapist that will assist you in regaining movement and control of your face.
Please follow me on instagram , YouTube, TikTok for much more up to date information and technique you can apply today. @butheauphysio on instagram.
10/8/2018 02:53:24 am
Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience with Bell's Palsy. My partner was diagnosed just last week and I've been tryyng to research and learn more about this illness so your videos and story are of great help.
10/8/2018 02:21:33 pm
Your very welcome. I hope your partner seek help to address it. I believe the earlier you address it, the higher the chance to overcome it quickly.
7/5/2019 08:17:55 am
You should try acupuncture ! They can open the proper healing channel without expensive and non effective steroids !!
11/22/2019 08:06:03 pm
10/19/2018 12:35:53 pm
Greetings. I would like to detail how I was really able to get full recovery from Bell's Palsy in 2 1/2 weeks. I'm 47 years old, great shape and very active. I woke up one morning and felt very significant paralysis on the left side of my face. Thinking I had had a stroke, I rushed to the doctor who ruled out a stroke and said it was very likely Bell's Palsy. He prescribed the anti-viral medicine and said it would take 3 to 4 months or more to get back to normal. This was depressing. Very distressing and depressing since I couldn't blink my eye or fully close my mouth. Very determined, to get back to normal as soon as possible, I did an all out blitz including daily massage (personal and with a professional masseuse) and very frequent acupuncture. I went to acupuncture every other day and this really seemed to help recovery drastically. I went to a very aggressive acupuncturist, so it was uncomfortable, but one I started seeing results the pain was definitely worth it. I would also place a warm towel on the affected area very frequently. Good luck to anyone who goes through this. I know there are much more serious ailments, but I know from experience, it's very traumatic to get Bell's Palsy. It will get better, but I strongly recommend acupuncture, daily massage, warm towels on affected areas and trying to relax.
Thank you for describing and sharing your experience and your input on what you did to overcome it. It is very troubling to experience these symptoms the first time. I knew right away what it was as I have treated patients with it and being a clinician, knew that it was not a stroke as I immediately tested my arm and leg strength on the side of the face paralysis/droop. It looks like you were very proactive, which is the best thing to do I believe!
11/2/2018 11:47:24 am
I have had Bell`s palsy for less than two now. Went to the emergency
11/3/2018 08:07:58 am
Thanks for sharing your experience.
11/24/2018 02:43:37 pm
Thank you! I have been struggling for about a week now, and did not know I could buy an electrical stimulator for home use. What brand did you buy? Do you have a link?
12/10/2018 12:24:22 am
Thanks Pierre for such informative article over Bell's Palsy. Not only that you have created a more detailed video showing us how we can overcome such condition. A big thank you for showing us everything we need to do. This is a great help over me and my brother that is experiencing such condition.
12/10/2018 08:26:20 pm
Thank you Mirian. I am glad you found it helpful. Wishing your brother a speedy recovery.
12/30/2018 07:51:20 am
Hey myself asad hasan and i am from India. I Have one Question about antiviral drug, so which type of drug you prefer ? if you dont mind can you give me antiviral drug name.
1/1/2019 05:56:45 pm
I am not a medical doctor nor a pharmacist and don't prescribe drugs. I did not take an antiviral when I had Bell's palsy. This would be a great questions for your medical doctor.
1/6/2019 01:12:48 am
I am experiencing Bell's Palsy right now. I am really stressed. I was diagnosed last Dec 28. I rushed to the doctor thinking that it was a stroke. Doctor said It's good because it's just Bells Palsy. It's just temporary though we're not sure when I can recover. I really hope that I can recover ASAP.
1/11/2019 05:42:44 pm
Hi Dee, how are you feeling? is your condition improving?
1/9/2019 06:52:19 am
Hi! I had Bells Palsy about 2 1/2 years ago. I thought the same thing as everyone else...am I having a stroke??? I went to the ER and they determined that it was Bells Palsy and not a stoke. They even did a spinal tap to see if it would help them figure out what caused it. The only thing that the doctors could come up with was that it was caused by high blood pressure. Unfortunately, my recovery took a long time...about 8 months. Its now been over 2 years I am still not 100%. My right eye waters all the time, I have constant headaches on the right side, right-sided jaw pain, and pain behind my right ear....OH! And I can't whistle anymore (booo). Regardless, I am happy that I am 95% recovered. Bells Palsy is awful BUT it will get better. It just takes time. So for anyone experiencing it now, just know that its not going to last forever. Just have patience.
1/11/2019 05:46:01 pm
Ashley, your headache and jaw pain as well as pain being your ear are likely muscular in origin. You are likely left with muscular imbalance in your neck/face/ head that are causing all this following the palsy. Have it assessed by a physical therapist so you can received treatment to that area as well as been shown things to do at home and so you can recover fully.
1/19/2019 03:23:42 pm
I can’t tell you how helpful these series of videos have been - I was diagnosed this evening with Bell’s Palsy and my symptoms were near identical to you - a stiff, sore neck on my right side and a terribly “clicky” jaw - then this afternoon washing my face, my right side went completely numb. Initially I worried it was a stroke, was so scared but a trip to A&E meant I was diagnosed early and have already bashed some steroids down!
1/19/2019 07:00:58 pm
Amy, I am so glad the videos helped and you re so very welcome! Comments like that make my day!
1/29/2019 10:00:54 pm
Hello, thank you so much for sharing your story. My boyfriend has recently been diagnosed with Bell's Palsy and is confused of the reason. The Dr says it's a virus but didn't mention the cause. Her just got over a flu but also experienced high blood pressure. I think the medicine and some massaging will help out alot. I am wondering if I should go get checked as well.
1/31/2019 08:02:28 am
Nicole, the virus thought to be responsible for Bell's Palsy is not contagious so no need to get check because you are around someone who has Bell's. This virus is not fully understood but is though to be related to the herpes simplex virus.
2/2/2019 05:33:45 am
I have a bells palsy ang pregnant in my 3rd trimester. What can you advise having warm compress or cod compress?
2/3/2019 03:39:00 pm
I would use warm wet compress applied to your face. Then use your hand to stretch your face muscles and stimulate them and practicing frowning, smiling, raising eye brows, blowing you cheeks...
2/25/2019 09:53:27 am
Greetings, I was diagnosed with Bell Palsy on February 14, 2019..The ER prescribed steroids and Ibuprofen...The pain behind my ear and the side of my face wont go away. I read not to do the exercise if your face is dropping? It look like I was getting a smile, but today nothing. My eyelid appears to be dropping this wasnt happening before. This is very depressing, I'm trying to stay positive but... I have an appointments with a therapist next week. Should I use cold or heat therapy? Should I do the face exercise...I'm all over the place 😔..Thank you in advance..
2/25/2019 09:41:13 pm
. How long have your symptoms being going on? (how long before February 14th?) What was the reasoning for not doing exercises if pain is drooping? This is exactly when you need to do face muscles exercises. you might need some help from a finger to assist the contraction but that is absolutely ok. And I would do a lot of it. The therapist should be able to help you and give you all the info you need. In regards to ice or heat, I would try both separately and one after the other. Stick with what works better.
2/26/2019 07:44:19 am
3/26/2019 11:17:40 pm
thanks for the information
4/1/2019 01:23:02 pm
3/26/2019 11:19:03 pm
good one keep it up
4/1/2019 01:23:37 pm
5/3/2019 02:25:21 am
It’s been 73 days suffering from Bells Palsy. Will my smile ever come back ?
11/23/2019 01:14:16 pm
Hi Adriana, sorry for very late reply. Just seeing this now. Have you recovered from Bell's palsy?
11/22/2019 08:13:56 pm
I was just diagnosed with it yesterday. Very relieving that you recovered from it fairly quick. The doctor gave me some meds to take. But they didnt tell me to do any facial exercises.
11/23/2019 01:13:14 pm
12/11/2019 12:41:07 am
My facial numbness was due to surgery and the nerves was totally removed, now I'm having difficulty with talking normal. What should I do?
6/24/2020 08:39:23 pm
I raced to my Doctor and got steroids within an hour of seeing the facial paralysis. It was all over after only 10 days, because I got those drugs quickly and did a lot of facial massaging. But I wish someone had told me how strange steroids are - made me feel very high for 2 weeks and then got very depressed. Be prepared.
11/23/2020 04:03:14 am
I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back down the road.
11/25/2020 01:54:37 am
Thank you for sharing, this is very helpfu l.I started experiencing numbness to the left side of my face 11/19 I thought it was my pinched never on my neck. 11/20 was the same ny face felt tingly. Saturday 11/21 my tongue went numb and started having ringing in my left ear. I knew I had to go to the dr. On Monday. I went i did not have any muscle weakness in my face at all, lost sense of taste on left side, and loss of hearing but I had my facial expressions. Dr told me to go to ER because it was a stroke... I started crying and went. I am 31 yrs old. Was evaluated, EKG was fine ER dr. Saw me and said that is not a stroke. You have Bell's palsy. And in 2 hrs. I could feel the left corner of my mouth become weaker and my eyebrow and lips lost movement. Started 80mg of prednisone and started Acyclovir right after leaving the ER. It is day 6 after numbness started and 2nd day on prednisone and Acyclovir and have lost complete ability to raise the left side of my mout, left eyebrow, have to push hard to close my left eye lid to blink, hearing is still off and am dizzy, harder to eat and drink without slobbering. Why did it take 6 days for this to completely progress. I hope it is a speedy recovery for me.
12/2/2020 02:46:53 am
2/14/2021 11:55:56 am
Do not use an electrical stimulator without the guidance of a therapist that is trained in Bell's palsy. Most people don't need one. Just the right instructions to perform exercises.
2/12/2021 05:12:28 am
Ty for all this. Funny i suffered my BP from my 2nd dose pfizer covid 19 vaccine as im a heathcare worker. YES THERE are studies out there they just don't tell you. Tomorrow marks 14 days since the full onset and no signs yet of improvement. So im hopeful ill see some improvement. I'm a 53yr old very fit person for 20yrs. No other underline issues in my health. NO smoke, no drink no nothing but clean living.
2/14/2021 11:53:15 am
What studies are you talking about Michael? Who is "THEY"? Can you provide a link? I am interested.
2/28/2021 07:06:14 pm
Michael I had a similar experience. Took the first shot of Pfizer vaccine on February 23rd and by February 25th was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy on same side that I received the shot.
2/12/2021 06:38:13 am
I was diagnosed at age 11 with a severe case. It happened overnight and started with a severe neck
2/14/2021 11:49:19 am
I would consult with the facial nerve center in Boston. http://facialnervecenter.org/
3/25/2021 12:34:32 am
Thank you for useful article. You have given very good information.
7/11/2021 02:11:31 pm
Thank you Pierre for reaching out to help. I first noticed droop on left side of mouth after headache, front forehead & back of head & nasty sting pain to gland under left ear. Dr prescribed steroids, would not give antiviral. Told me to wait 3 weeks as no specialist would see me. I’m not improving, was not aware of physical therapist. Please can you help advise me how and where to apply face massage to the right muscles.
7/12/2021 04:37:52 pm
Hi Diana, thanks for resign out and sorry to read you are struggling with this.
7/19/2021 10:26:19 pm
I heard it can be cause mainly because of Herpes (HSV-1) . I am dating someone who has it . should I be worried I will contract that HPV and get it too, because I don't want it but really like that person
8/18/2021 02:30:51 am
Thanks for sharing this informative blog. The risk factors for stroke include old age, high blood pressure, previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), diabetes, high cholesterol, tobacco smoking, alcohol and atrial fibrillation. For any further informations on Paralysis Treatment in Bangalore you may visit this article : https://bit.ly/3APGdZP
9/2/2021 04:44:35 am
I am looking for your thoughts, From what I have been told I have a textbook severe case of Bell’s Palsy. I was able to start meds within hours of onset and PT within 2 days. I am currently 4 months out and my eye is still a bit round and will not shut as firm and my mouth seems to not have a wide of a smile. The BIG issue is the pain behind my ear, I can hear/feel my heartbeat and the heavy feeling on my face. Do you have any insight on manual PT or exercises that would help with the pain? Will it last forever? Please any help, or ideas would be wonderful.
10/24/2021 03:16:21 pm
I GOT RID OF HERPES WITHIN 6 DAYS
11/3/2021 08:30:22 am
I am a year in....a few days ago my symptoms jumped back to how they were about 8 months ago. I'm so frustrated I look like a crazy person please is there any help you can offer me
12/9/2021 06:18:01 am
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1/16/2022 05:27:29 am
I want the name of company used got electric simulator for face.
Tiffani Shakira Narine
2/20/2022 05:11:34 am
I had a severe case and it took years to see any major improvements. 22 years later I suffer with synkinesis and now 8.5 months pregnant I have had a relapse..
3/8/2022 07:24:49 pm
It’s obvious most people living with HERPES are been enslaved to the antiviral and other supplementary antibiotics medicine just to help suppress the virus only.
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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.