Facial Nerve Conditions

Types and Causes of Facial Paralysis

Facial paralysis has many different causes. The Emory Facial Nerve Program treats all types of facial nerve disorders.

Bell's Palsy
Bell's palsy is the most common cause of facial paralysis. This disorder can be temporary and reversible, but in some cases it can lead to permanent facial spasms and tightness.  Most often, it affects just one side of the face. Symptoms appear suddenly and can be anywhere from mild to severe. It’s believed the cause of the condition is a viral infection that swells or inflames the facial nerve.

Ramsay-Hunt Syndrome
This syndrome is classified by a painful rash around one ear, hearing loss and facial paralysis. It shows up when the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes shingles and chickenpox — affects the hearing and facial nerves It’s believed that those who get the disorder have an infection in the facial nerve near the inner ear, which causes irritation and a swollen nerve. Adults mainly have this condition, although sometimes it appears in children.

Facial Nerve Damage
Can be caused by:

  • Trauma, such as an injury to your head or face
  • Injury to the facial nerve as the result of surgery
  • Benign (noncancerous) or cancerous tumors within or near the facial nerve
  • Neurological conditions, such as a stroke, that affect the nerves in the face

Hemifacial Spasm
This disorder appears as frequent contractions you can’t control, usually on one side of your face. The condition may be caused by a tumor or a facial nerve injury, or it may not have a clear cause. 

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