Facial Nerve Damage

Facial nerve damage could be caused due to varied reasons and in this article we are going to look into the details of it and also understand the symptoms and treatment options for this nerve disorder.
Amongst the twelve paired cranial nerves, facial nerve is the seventh. Cranial nerves are those nerves that rise directly from the brain unlike the spinal nerves that develop and rise from parts of the spinal cord. Facial nerve rises from the middle of the two brain stem structures namely pons and medulla. So that's where it develops and rise, from the brain stem and then is divided into small nerves that spread across the face, outer ear, neck and the salivary glands. These facial nerves that branch out to different parts of the face are responsible for facial expressions and that is because these nerves control the muscles that result in facial expressions. Besides controlling the facial muscles, it also transmits taste sensations from the tongue, the outer ear and the oral cavity as well.

Causative Factors for Facial Nerve Damage

As the name suggests facial nerve damage is implied to a state where the facial nerves are damaged, hence affecting the normal functioning of it. The functioning of facial nerves get affected or they get damaged due to the following reasons or in such conditions.
  • Trauma or injury to the head causing extra pressure and swelling on the nerve
  • Ottis Media or infections of the middle ear
  • Diabetes
  • Tumor
  • Birth abnormalities
  • Injury or facial and neck trauma
  • Viral infection named Bell's Palsy
  • Infections such as meningitis and herpes type 1
  • Nerve damage after dental work is also possible
These are some of the common causes. Basically, any trauma, infection or any other condition causing swelling and excess pressure on the facial nerves mean an abnormal function. This is a traumatic condition that could also lead to complete or partial paralysis of the face or facial muscles in severe cases.

Facial Nerve Damage Symptoms

In severe cases such as complete paralysis of the face, normal facial movements and expressions such as closing the eyes, raising eyebrows and lip movements become impossible but mostly symptoms can be identified with the following symptoms.
  • Difficulty eating
  • Difficulty closing one eye
  • General feeling of stiffness in the face
  • Headache
  • Losing the sense of taste
  • Feeling face pulled towards one side
  • Sensitive to sound
  • Experiencing loud sounds in one ear
  • Difficulty making facial expressions
  • Pain at the back of the ear
  • Partial paralysis or paralysis on one side of the face
Facial Nerve Damage Treatment

Identifying the cause of damage plays an essential role in order to get the appropriate treatment. Before the treatment do ensure if it's a nerve damage, tests such as CT scans, x-rays, MRI's and other such advanced tests might be recommended by the health care provider. In fact, all the impaired functions of the face would be required to be detected using various tests to determine whether the cause of it is facial nerve damage. This would also help in determining the extent of damage and on the basis of that anti-viral drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids may be prescribed. If the damage is not curable through medications then, a surgery may need to be undertaken. As mentioned earlier, the treatment also depends on the cause. So for example, if the damage is a result of a tumor, then it needs to be removed through a surgery in order to end the cause first and then recommended medications to recover.

Physical therapy and acupuncture may also be recommended by the doctor, if the facial nerve damage is detected at an early stage and these therapies also help once the person recovers from the surgery to regain the normal functions of the facial nerves.
By Sheeba Nambiar
Published: 12/4/2010
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