Massage therapy is not simply a luxury or occasional treat! Massage therapy is well known to be able to treat a variety of painful conditions. One of these conditions is Bell’s Palsy, a type of nerve damage that can temporarily paralyze the muscles in the face. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) recommends massage therapy and facial exercises as a beneficial treatment for Bell’s Palsy. Steroid medications are sometimes used to reduce inflammation and can be particularly effective when combined with massage treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy
Bell’s palsy should be diagnosed by a medical doctor. People with Bell’s palsy may be unable to generate facial expression or have an uneven or droopy appearance. It involves one side and can range from mild to severe. It can be brought on by an upper respiratory infection or other illness although the exact mechanism that causes Bell’s Palsy is unknown. While it usually heals on its own with time, the condition can be painful and care should be taken to prevent muscle atrophy in the face.
If you have been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, ask your primary care physician for a referral to a massage therapist or physical therapist who has experience with treating Bell’s palsy. A specially trained therapist can help you learn facial exercises you can practice at home to improve your range of motion in addition to performing massage on the involved muscles in the face. Self-care at home will be much easier with proper training. Self-care and care by a therapist can also help prevent permanent muscle atrophy in facial muscles.
Massage Techniques for Bell’s Palsy
Mouth/Lower facial muscles: Manually create a smile with your lips. Gently grasp the corner of your lips with your thumb and index finger and then push your lips toward the center of your face to pucker your lips. Ease your lips upward into a smile again. Repeat this motion a few times in a row.
Forehead: Massage the upper part of your face by placing your fingers above your eyebrow and firmly massage upward to your hairline, using one fluid motion. Reverse the motion and bring your fingers back down to your eyebrows. Repeat this several times a day.
Cheeks: Use a circular motion with your fingertips on your cheeks. Firm strokes will be the most beneficial while the nerves are inflamed.
Your therapist may show you how to correctly apply moist heat to your face after massaging. Use warm water on a washcloth and squeeze out the extra water. The heat will help relieve pain from the inflammation and help to increase the benefits of the massage.
Let us know how we can help you with massage therapy today!