What is Bell’s palsy?

Bell’s palsy is a condition that results in paralysis (weakness) of the muscles on one side of the face due to inflammation or damage to the facial nerve. The weakness usually progresses over a few days (in contrast to stroke, where the weakness is at its worst at symptom onset). The muscles which control eyelid opening and closing are also affected, often resulting in eye dryness and irritation.

The exact cause of Bell’s palsy remains unclear. It is often associated with viral infections, such as the herpes simplex virus. Bell’s Palsy affects individuals of all ages, most commonly occurring in people between the ages of 15 and 60.

With prompt and appropriate treatment, individuals with Bell’s Palsy can experience significant recovery.


Causes and risk factors of Bell’s palsy

While the precise cause of Bell’s Palsy remains unknown, several factors are believed to contribute to its development.

Viral infections, such as the herpes simplex virus, have been strongly associated with the onset of this condition.

Other risk factors include:

  • Family history of Bell’s Palsy
  • Recent upper respiratory tract infection
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Facial nerve injury

Symptoms of Bell's palsy

The primary symptom of Bell’s palsy is paralysis on one side of the face. This may be preceded by facial pain (around the jaw or behind the ear on the same side) in some individuals.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty closing the eye or blinking
  • Drooling
  • Loss of taste
  • Increased sensitivity to sound in one ear

The severity of symptoms can vary from mild to complete paralysis.

bells palsy treatment

Symptoms of Bell’s palsy include sensitivity to sound in one ear and pain around the jaw area.


Diagnosis of Bell’s palsy

Diagnosing Bell’s Palsy involves a thorough examination of the patient’s medical history and a comprehensive physical examination.The healthcare provider may also perform additional tests, such as electromyography (EMG) and imaging studies, to rule out other potential causes of facial paralysis.


Bell's palsy disease treatment options

Bell’s Palsy is a condition that requires specialised treatment to minimise symptoms, expedite recovery, and prevent long-term complications. The treatment approach typically focuses on reducing inflammation, promoting nerve regeneration, and managing associated symptoms such as eye dryness and irritation.

Treatment may include:

  • Medications: Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as corticosteroids, can help reduce inflammation and promote nerve recovery.
  • Physical Therapy: Facial exercises and massage techniques can improve muscle strength and restore facial movement.
  • Eye Care: Protecting the affected eye from dryness and injury through lubricating eye drops, ointments, or patches is imperative.
  • Nerve Stimulation: Techniques like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may be used to stimulate facial nerves and aid in recovery.

Rarely, further intervention is required, and may include:

  • Facial Nerve Decompression: Consists of removing the bone that is compressing the facial nerve
  • Facial Reanimation Surgery: Healthy muscle tissue (including its blood vessel and nerve supply) is removed from another area of the body, such as the leg, and implanted into the paralysed side of the face to assist with improving facial muscle movement.

Prognosis and Recovery

The prognosis for Bell’s Palsy is generally favourable, with most individuals experiencing significant recovery within three to six months. Prompt treatment and diligent follow-up care can significantly enhance the chances of successful recovery. While some patients may experience residual weakness or facial asymmetry, the majority regain full or near-full facial function.

Complications and follow-up care

Although rare, complications can arise from Bell’s Palsy, such as synkinesis (involuntary facial muscle movements) and contracture (permanent tightening of facial muscles). Inability to close the affected eye can also result in dry eye syndrome, irritation, excessive tearing, blurred vision and in some cases keratitis (inflammation of the cornea).



Bell’s Palsy is a condition resulting in facial paralysis which is temporary in the majority of cases.Prompt and appropriate treatment is crucial in promoting recovery and minimising long-term complications. By seeking specialised assistance and adhering to a personalised treatment plan, individuals can regain their facial function and restore their overall well-being.

Why Choose Us

Choose CURA Medical Specialists
for Bell's palsy treatment

Our experienced team at CURA Medical Specialists specialise in providing personalised, expert care for those with Neurologic conditions. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

Meet our friendly and professional team

Dr Hugh Stephen Winters

Dr. Hugh Stephen Winters

MBChB (Auckland) FRACP (Neurology) CCINR (Neurology)

Dr Hugh Stephen Winters is a highly trained interventional neurologist, skilled at minimally invasive techniques to diagnose and treat stroke, idiopathic intracranial hypertension and aneurysms.

Dr. Timothy Ang

MBBS, FRACP (Neurology), Head of Committee for CCINR

Dr Timothy Ang is a highly skilled interventional neurologist who uses cutting-edge medical imaging to diagnose and treat neurovascular and neurological diseases, including stroke, intracranial hypertension, headache, migraine and aneurysms.

Dr Timothy Ang
Dr Kartik Bhatia

Dr. Kartik Bhatia


Dr Kartik Bhatia is an interventional neuroradiologist who treats both children and adults.

Dr. Christopher Blair​

BSc (Hons I), MBBS (Hons I), DPhil (York), FRACP

Dr Christopher Blair​ having trained at both Royal Prince Alfred and Liverpool Hospitals Chris has gained rich experience in the treatment of all types of neurological disorders

Dr. Christopher Blair


For more information please read our most frequently asked questions:

Recovery time for Bell’s Palsy varies, but early intervention, appropriate treatment, and diligent follow-up care can help expedite the healing process.

No, Bell’s Palsy is not a mini-stroke; it is a condition characterised by temporary facial paralysis due to inflammation or damage to the facial nerve, often associated with viral infections.

Yes, Bell’s Palsy typically goes away on its own over time, with most individuals experiencing significant improvement and regaining normal or near-normal facial function.

Bell’s Palsy is generally not considered a serious condition in terms of life-threatening risks, but it can have a significant emotional impact, and complications such as involuntary facial movements or contracture may occur in rare cases.

The facial nerve is the primary nerve affected by Bell’s Palsy. It controls the movement of the facial muscles and plays a crucial role in facial expressions. In Bell’s Palsy, inflammation or damage to the facial nerve leads to facial weakness or paralysis.

In Bell’s Palsy, facial muscle weakness can affect the eye’s ability to close properly, leading to dryness, irritation, and blurred vision. In severe cases, keratitis (inflammation of the cornea) may occur which can lead to visual impairment.

Lubricating eye drops or ointment (with the addition of an eye patch) are sufficient in the majority of cases. Temporary punctal occlusion (blocking the tear drainage ducts) can be performed to help manage excessive tearing in select cases.

The duration of facial paralysis in Bell’s Palsy can vary from individual to individual. In most cases, significant recovery occurs within three to six months.

Yes, facial nerve palsy can be caused by a number of conditions other than Bell’s Palsy, including trauma or injury to the facial nerve, tumours, infections, autoimmune disorders, and other neurological conditions.

PLEASE NOTE: This information is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment. It is aimed at presenting a perspective only and is not a substitute for a prescription or clinical assessment. Anyone experiencing a medical condition should consult their doctor.
Contact Us

How to book an appointment with us

Please book your appointment with CURA Medical Specialists using one of the following convenient options:

©2024 Cura Specialists | All Rights Reserved | Sitemap