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Facial Nerve Disorders

The facial nerve is responsible for the movement of almost all of the muscles of your face. It comes from the brain, through the ear and mastoid, through the tissues of the neck under the ear, through the parotid gland (the salivary gland in your cheek), and then fans out to the muscles of your forehead, eyes, cheeks, mouth, chin, and neck. Diseases in any of these areas can damage the function of this nerve. It can also be injured in accidents, skull fractures, and occasionally during surgical procedures being done in the area of its trunk or branches. Viral infections can sometimes cause weakness (paresis) or paralysis of this nerve, too. The term Bell's palsy is often used to describe a weak or paralyzed face that comes on suddenly and may clear spontaneously. Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, and other diseases of the brain can paralyze it, too.

It is important to see an otolaryngologist if you develop a facial paralysis. The cause of the paralysis should be properly performed and medications, often Prednisone (cortisone), are often prescribed to help clear the paralysis. Most important, however, is determining whether or not there is an underlying disease process that is causing the paralysis. A mastoid infection or cholesteatoma causing facial paralysis required urgent surgery if the paralysis is not to become permanent. Tumors (such as an acoustic neuroma) causing paralysis need to be identifies and treated. Other diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease, etc, require special treatment that should not be delayed. Hearing tests, facial nerve function tests, scans, and sometimes balance testing is often indicated. Even if the nerve function clears on its own, these tests should be run. After facial weakness or paralysis has been treated, many people will have a good recovery of facial function.

At times, the return of facial muscle function is either slow or incomplete. At that time, facial exercises can play an important role in maximizing the return of function. Exercises can also improve coordination of the many small muscles of the face that account for your facial expression(s).Ask your otolaryngologist if facial exercises would be useful and consult the exercise program on the DVD for directions for each exercise. Your otolaryngologist can synchronize your individual exercise program.

To order a Facial Exercise DVD or schedule an appointment, call 763 494-9896.


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