Bell's palsy is the paralysis or weakness of muscles on one side of the face, which results in an individual's face drooping on the affected side. Symptoms are caused by damage to a particular nerve known as the facial nerve. This nerve damage may also affect a person's sense of taste as well as production of tears and saliva. An individual with Bell's palsy also may have difficulty closing his or her eye on the affected side of the face. This condition typically comes on suddenly, often overnight.
While many cases of Bell's palsy resolve on their own, others may persist. If you are suffering from ongoing symptoms, it may be time to seek help.
While the exact trigger for Bell's palsy is unknown, one causal factor, which is beginning to appear more frequently in medical research, is head and/or neck trauma. Examples include blows to the head, whiplash and/or concussion through motor vehicle accidents, athletics, or falls. It is thought that trauma to the alignment of the skull and upper neck bones (C1 and C2 vertebrae) alters nerve conduction and blood flow and may lead to damage of the facial nerve, triggering Bell's palsy.
Fortunately, a rare chiropractic technique specializing in the cervical spine has shown promise for patients with Bell's palsy. This specialty - known as Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care - focuses on the alignment of the head and neck in order to help patients with neurological conditions. In order to determine whether a patient may benefit from care, the cervical chiropractor will perform two diagnostic tests: thermal imaging and digital X-rays of the spine. If a cervical misalignment is diagnosed, the patient's injured neck is corrected by administering a precise adjustment by hand on a specially-designed knee chest table. Most patients notice improvement in symptoms with just a few treatments.
With over 20 years of experience as a specialist in the upper cervical spine, Upper Cervical Chiropractor Dr. Erin Elster, D.C., has been working with patients with Bell's palsy and other neurological conditions for the past three years on Maui. For more information on upper cervical care and trauma-induced injuries, contact Dr. Elster in Kahului at (808) 866-6551 or visit www.erinelster.com.