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Why are my neck and mouth so tensed after Bell’s palsy?

Tensed neck after Bell's palsy

Sometimes, your neck and mouth area can feel tensed or even painful after Bell’s palsy. This can happen even after years since your Bell’s palsy happened. To be more precise, tensed muscles are not Bell’s palsy itself. You cannot suffer from Bell’s palsy for years – it finishes once the first movements appear. What you experience afterwards are complications and residuals.

The lower part of our face can move thanks to a couple of muscles. One of them is the surface muscle of the neck, which is called the platysma. Another muscle – Depressor Anguli Oris, is the muscle that pulls down the mouth corner. It is located at the lower part of the mouth. These two muscles are both attached to the edge of the lower jaw. They are also very close to each other in the motor cortex in the brain. The motor cortex manages all the signals of conscious contraction and relaxation of all muscles in our body, including the facial muscles.

Amplified signals after Bell’s palsy

After Bell’s palsy, we have a tendency to over amplify signals in our brain. So instead of sending balanced signals, our motor cortex sends very powerful signals towards the muscles. When our brain sends over-amplified signals, it can involve more than just the intended muscle in the action. So your neck and mouth area can keep receiving very strong signals from your brain, contracting more than necessary and involving neighboring regions in the action. This results in constant background contraction, as your muscle is unable to relax sufficiently and your neck and mouth may feel tense.

How to reduce the tension

The main advice, to reduce the tension and pain, is to avoid forcing your face into facial expressions. Use your emotions to guide your facial expressions. Do not sit in front of a mirror and force your muscles to do what they cannot until your facial nerve recovers sufficiently.

Instead, spend as much time as your lifestyle allows you reflecting, listening to your face, consciously relaxing your muscles and keeping them relaxed for as long as you possibly can. At least twice a day, 10-15 minutes, would be very helpful. If you do it regularly, consistently – you will feel less tension in that area.

Rehabilitation is the best way to tackle facial pains and tension

Speaking from the way we approach synkinesis and other complications at Crystal Touch, we need to work on balancing the signals that come out from the brain.  We need to remind our brain that it is no longer necessary to over-amplify each signal. We need to change the habit. That is why it takes so much time and why a professionally-guided rehabilitation is necessary, either with us other specialists. Because we need to overcome the formed habits. As we all know, it is very difficult. As they say, it is better to create correct habits from day one than to change the habits that already have been formed.

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Alex Pashov

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

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