Difference Between Facial Paralysis vs. Facial Synkinesis
There are many similarities between facial paralysis and facial synkinesis. However, the disorders are not interchangeable, and it is important for patients to know how to differentiate between the two for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Facial paralysis refers to the loss of facial movement due to nerve damage. It can affect one or both sides of the face. Additionally, if an individual experiences facial paralysis, the facial muscles will become weak and may even start to droop.
There are many causes of facial paralysis, and these include:
- Bell’s palsy
- Facial nerve infection or inflammation
- Head or neck tumor
- Head trauma
- Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
- Acoustic Neuroma
- Moebius Syndrome
Because there are a variety of causes of facial paralysis, it is very important for the patient to see a facial nerve specialist and get a proper diagnosis. Once the true cause of facial paralysis has been diagnosed, Dr. Babak Azizzadeh can create an appropriate facial paralysis treatment plan to help the patient regain facial movement.
Facial synkinesis can occur secondary to Bell’s palsy or abnormal facial nerve regeneration. In some cases, the facial nerve fibers may be implanted into various muscles. Or, if the facial nerve has been resewn, the facial nerve fibers may reconnect to the incorrect nerve group. When this happens, involuntary facial movements may occur as a result of the “misconnection” of the nerve and muscles. For example, when the patient smiles the eyes will narrow, or when the patient tries to whistle the neck muscle tightens. These unwanted facial movements make synkinesis a very frustrating condition.
Common signs of synkinesis include:
- Dimpling in the chin
- Increased facial muscle spasms
- Narrowing of the eyes
- Tightness of the neck bands and cheeks
Just like facial paralysis, each synkinesis patient needs to be evaluated on an individual basis by Dr. Azizzadeh to determine what course of treatment will provide the best results. Synkinesis patients have several treatment options including Botox, selective neurectomy, and/or physical therapy. These treatments both work by decreasing the activity of the nerves and muscles that are causing the unwanted facial movements. Physical therapy helps patients retrain their muscles for further smile improvement.
Overcoming the effects is a long and difficult process. With the proper treatments (surgical or non-surgical), facial paralysis and synkinesis patients can recover some of their lost facial movement and regain animation in their facial expressions.
As a result of Dr. Babak Azizzadeh’s advancements in the field of facial reanimation surgery, patients now have a variety of treatment options to choose from to improve their facial paralysis or synkinesis. Dr. Azizzadeh provides each patient with a physical therapy program that will help facilitate facial symmetry and regain dynamic facial movement. He customizes physical therapy sessions around each patient’s personal prognosis and the severity of their condition to ensure the physical therapy program is tailored to address their specific needs.
To learn more about facial paralysis and synkinesis treatments, please call us today at 310-657-2203 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh.