What Are the Signs of Recovering From Bell's Palsy?

Bell's Palsy is not a stroke, but damage to the facial nerve. It creates partial or complete paralysis of the facial muscles. Most patients will recover completely, even if they do not seek treatment. For those who seem to be recovering slowly or not at all, there are some treatments than can help. Steroids are prescribed to lower swelling in the nerves, and on occasion, antivirals will be given for the same purpose. Eyedrops are necessary if blinking was affected by the paralysis.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Recovery normally starts within a few weeks after the episode. The longer it takes for recovery to start, the greater the risk that it will not be 100 percent. This however, does not mean that, if recovery doesn't start within three or so weeks, the patient is doomed. It just means that there is a possibility of complications or a less-than-100-percent recovery. The first thing the patient will notice when recovery starts is a tingling sensation in the face--similar to what it feels like when a foot falls asleep. Pain might also be accompanied by healing.

As healing continues, facial movements are noticed. If the movements are not in the expected part of the face, this is referred to as synkinesis. An example would be a twitch in the mouth when you are not trying to smile. Such an occurrence means that recovery will take a little longer, due to a mix-up in nerve wiring. Full recovery from Bell's Palsy can take months, and which muscles recover first is not the same for everyone 1.