Can stress cause Bell’s palsy and affect its recovery?

When it comes to facial palsy and its recovery, stress can play a very important role. Continuous stress can affect our bodies in multiple ways. Most of us know, or have experienced, that stress has a strong impact on our nervous system, which in turn affects many functions in our bodies. Let’s take a look at how continuous stress can affect facial palsy and its recovery.

Can Bell’s palsy be caused by stress?

Stress plays a very important and negative role in Bell’s palsy. It is not scientifically proven, yet, it is evident, also from our experience with our patients, that stress participates as a risk factor in Bell’s palsy.

The following are the two ways, that we believe, could be the negative effects of stress that can increase the risk of facial palsy.

1. Stress suppresses your immune system.

It is known that prolonged stress can suppress your immune system. Every person has a different resilience to stress. Some might be affected more and some less. When you experience stress, your immune system can reduce, and if there is any latent infection present in your body it has the chance to surface. It can be infections such as herpes virus or bacterial infection in your ear, for example. Because of the lowered immune system, it can surface and cause facial palsy.

2. Stress may lead to vascular spasms

Stress can cause spontaneous vascular spasms in your blood vessels. As you know, muscles can contract because of stress. That is why, when we are very scared, our face becomes pale. It is because the muscles of the blood vessels constrict, and the blood stops flowing to the face. As we explain during our seminars, webinars, and in our video courses, when the supply of oxygen to the facial nerve stops – it becomes damaged. As the blood vessels constrict, the supply of blood to the face reduces, and this reduction in oxygen can damage your facial nerve. 

Stress can make your recovery more prolonged.

Stress can reduce our body’s ability to recover. It can slow down your recovery process after your facial nerve had been damaged. Your body needs all the resources it can get to recover the facial nerve after the damage had happened. Stress can deplete or reduce the availability of your body’s resources for that. That is why we keep focusing on how important it is to stay calm and positive. Please, do not despair. Your situation will improve. Stay positive, reduce your stress and this can help your body to recover. If you need some guidance and reassurance, you can speak to us.

Can the elimination of stress help to reduce synkinesis and other complications?

Basically, stress is one of your worst enemies if you want to overcome synkinesis, contractures, and other complications and residuals after facial palsy.

When we are stressed, our brain sends contraction signals to almost every muscle in our face. That is why, if you have synkinesis, it may become more pronounced under stress. Synkinesis is a manifestation of over-excitation of certain areas in your brain and, respectively, in your muscles. Stress can increase the contraction signals sent to synkinetic muscles.

Moreover, under continuous stress, your facial muscles can remain contracted, hyper-toned, for a longer period of time. The more they are engaged, the less they relax. If you have contractures, stress can make it even more difficult for them to relax, causing more facial pains and exhaustion. That is why by the end of the day you can feel totally exhausted, even if you were not engaging in any physical work. Because of stress, your facial muscles can remain contracted all day, making you physically tired. Over-tensed muscles can send the tension signals back to your brain, which can affect your emotions. Having negative emotions further makes you more stressed, contracting your facial muscles more and more.

Stay calm, relax more, and eliminate factors that make you stressed. Stay positive and control your emotions. If you would like to reduce your worries regarding your condition, you can speak with our specialists, who will analyse your condition and explain to you what you can expect.

Alex Pashov

Alex Pashov

Co-founder of Crystal Touch clinic and Bell's palsy expert.

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