Can Bell's Palsy Be Caused By Head Injury?
Bell's palsy is a unilateral facial paralysis syndrome. It usually has a sudden onset. Its cause is unknown but is believed to involve swelling of cranial nerve VII. It is thought to have causative factors of viral infection or immune deficiencies.
The swelling of the nerve and subsequent entrapment of the nerve may be what sets Bell's Palsy in motion. Symptoms can be a mild weakness to total paralysis of one side of the face. In some cases, it can also start on one side and then switch to the other.
Symptoms include drooping of the eyelid and corner of the mouth, dryness of the eye and/or mouth, and decreased sensation of taste. Bell's palsy is the most common cause of peripheral facial paralysis. (1) Bell's affects approximately 40 000 Americans each year. It seems to affect men and women ages 15 to 60 years equally.(2)
Bell's Palsy And Head Trauma | Could Some Bell's Palsy Be The Result Of Neck Injury?
There are several pub med research articles that implicate a delayed onset of Bell's Palsy following head trauma. (3) Although the conclusions of the research do not name a CAUSE the correlation exists between Bells and head trauma. What could be causing Bell's Palsy following head trauma?
We have written several articles in the past that show correlation between concussion, traumatic head injury and whiplash trauma and its effects on human health. We are of the opinion that any trauma that is able to cause a concussion or head injury simultaneously causes damage to the upper cervical spine.
The head and neck junction, called the craniocervical junction, is the most unstable region of the human spine. The head weighs 10-12 pounds and sits on the atlas(c-1) that weighs 2 ounces. This junction is held together with ligaments, muscles and soft tissue. As a result of its structural relationship, it is unstable and subject to injury.
Concussion type injuries can cause tears to the ligaments(joint capsules) and soft tissue of this region causing neurological interference and a cascade of dysfunction throughout the spine. (4,5)
Possible Underlying Mechanisms Of Bell's Palsy Relating to Neck Trauma
Neck trauma and subsequent c-1 (atlas) and c-2 (axis) misalignments can impact the spinal cord. Injury to the neck causes the spinal musculature to spasm and normal spinal curves can be lost. Once the neck curve is lost tensile stresses on the brain stem occur and overall neurological function is impaired.
It is possible that irritation to the spinal cord at the brain stem level affects the 7th cranial nerve nuclei. This predisposes the nuclei to dysfunction. What if latent viruses in the body are activated due to decreases in immunity following head injury. The irritation to the cord and cranial nerve VII could possibly predispose the nerve to the susceptibility of viral infection, resulting in Bell's Palsy.
It is well-known that herpes zoster(shingles) "attacks" spinal and cranial nerves later in life quite often following excessive stress events. Bell's Palsy may have a similar mechanism that is linked to head and neck trauma. These are theories but could explain the correlation that one sees with incidences of Bell's Palsy following head trauma.
In our office, over the years we have seen many of Bell's Palsy cases either remit or improve by providing Specific Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care. Next, we will discuss what Blair Upper Cervical Care is.
What Is Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic And What Its Goal?
Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic is a specialized form of care whose goal is to correct interference to the nervous system by correcting spinal misalignments in the upper cervical spine. As we have discussed, a misaligned upper cervical spine can influence the central nervous system causing irritation to the brain-stem.
The goal of upper cervical care is to correct brain-stem interference.
Upper cervical doctors run objective testing to locate where interference exists in the neck. Then precise x-rays are taken to determine the direction of joint misalignment and its angulation. Once this information is gleaned the patient receives a precise gentle correction. There is no twisting, popping or pulling.
After the correction is made the patient is monitored over time to ensure healing is taking place. The goal is for the vertebra to stay in its normal position for as long as possible. Our office has helped many patients recover from chronic health conditions that have not responded to other forms of care. ” Nature needs no help, just no interference!” We hope this information was helpful to someone in need.