Chronic facial pains, facial spasms and contractures of facial muscles that occur after Bell’s palsy are NOT the return of the facial palsy. They are a complication that develops during a long-term recovery process and are called micro-contractures. These pains can be experiences especially during strong emotions, cold weather and when exposed to the air-conditioner.
Facial pains and facial spasms after Bell’s palsy can be compared to cramps
The nature of these facial pains can be related to the mechanisms of cramps. When the muscle is overloaded, especially in cold weather, it may cramp and cause pain. The whole surface of our head and neck, also behind the ears is covered with the relatively thin layer of muscles. All of them are innervated by the facial nerve and therefore, lose their connection with the brain when Bell’s palsy happens. Once the recovery is happening, all of these muscles are susceptible to cramping, so you may experience pains anywhere on your face and head.
Reasons why your muscles might cramp and cause facial pains and contractures:
1. A few muscle fibres try to do the job of the whole muscle.
After the incomplete recovery from Bell’s palsy only part of facial muscle fibres restore their connection with the facial nerve. Those few recovered muscle fibres attempt to do the job of the whole muscle. Naturally, they become overloaded and eventually cramped. If the cramped condition persists, it becomes chronic, gives constant pains and may disfigure the face. Just as any cramped muscle, it can be painful to touch. The pain is then bruise-like. Sometimes it may feel like sudden bursts of pain.
2. Our emotions make the facial muscles contract unconsciously.
When we experience strong emotions, our facial muscles receive intense signals from the brain. Those signals make the facial muscles contract, which causes more pain. That is why when you are stressed or tired or even when you are overly excited, the pains and spasms of facial muscles worsen.
What you can do to relieve the facial pains and contractures?
To relieve such acute facial pains and spasms we would suggest using gentle massage with the massage oil or massage gel. The massage should be applied to the whole face, neck and head area. In the beginning, it may be a little painful, but as you continue your massage session, the muscles will warm-up, relax and the pain will be (at least partly) relieved.
Make sure that the massage is very gentle. If you experience strong pains during it, try to put less pressure or stop making the massage. The purpose of the massage is to relax your face. It must feel pleasant and comforting. In the video on acute Bell’s palsy, we explain in more details how to do the facial massage.
In addition, please learn to balance your emotions. When our emotions are in balance, the background contraction signals to the facial muscles are less intense and therefore will not produce pain. Some of you experience pain at night or early in the morning after waking up. These pains are related to our night dreams. As we dream, we also experience intense emotions with the same consequences as described above.
Learn to keep your emotions in balance, to relax your face consciously and to remain positive!
– Alex Pashov
Crystal Touch Bell’s palsy clinic