What is Bell’s Palsy?

Bell’s Palsy is a type of facial paralysis that is caused by trauma to the seventh cranial nerve. It occurs when the facial nerve is inflamed or swollen. Onset is sudden and symptoms worsen over a 48 hour period, affecting one or both sides of the face.


Symptoms can range from moderate to severe and generally clear up on their own.

Symptoms may include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Drooling
  • Facial paralysis on one side of the face
  • Pain behind the ear on the affected side
  • Eye problems such as dry eyes or eye pain
  • Jaw pain or stiffness
  • Difficulty moving the mouth
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Eyes tear up
  • Sensitivity to light.


Bell’s Palsy diagnosis starts with a complete medical history and neurologic exam of the head, face, mouth and neck. An examination may reveal weakness or loss of movement of the muscles on one side of the face. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans can be used to confirm a Bell’s Palsy diagnosis by revealing any abnormalities involving the facial nerve.

An exam performed by our trained neurology specialists can help determine the site and cause of damage to the facial nerve as well as any other neurological disorders present or affecting the patient. 

Diagnosis can be confirmed through a variety of diagnostic tools including:


Bell’s Palsy treatment options include medications, medical care, surgery or a combination of all three.

  • Medication – Generally the first line of defense against inflammatory damage to nerves caused by Bell’s Palsy. Prescription drugs for Bell’s Palsy treat pain, inflammation, and muscle contractions. 
  • Surgery – Neurosurgery is suggested for patients and focused treatment with the goal of decompression, repair, reconstruction.