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Alternative Names Return to topNeuropathy - facial; Cranial mononeuropathy VII; Seventh cranial nerve palsy
Definition Return to top
Facial nerve palsy is a nervous system disorder in which a damaged nerve in the skull affects the movement of the muscles of the face.
It is a form of cranial mononeuropathy VII.
Causes Return to top
Facial nerve palsy occurs when there is damage to the seventh cranial (facial) nerve. It is a type of mononeuropathy. The seventh facial nerve is located in the skull. It controls movement of the muscles of the face. It also affects feeling in the ear canal and the sense of taste.
This type of nerve damage may occur with local growths, such as a tumor, that put pressure on the facial nerve.
Facial nerve palsy may also be caused by:
It also may have no obvious cause.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
An examination will show facial drooping on one side of the face or just on the forehead, eyelid, or mouth. Examination of the eardrum may show fluid-filled sacs (vesicles).
A blood test may be done to check for Lyme disease. Other tests may include:
Treatment Return to top
Finding and treating the cause (if it can be found) may relieve symptoms in some cases. The disorder may disappear on its own depending on the severity of nerve damage.
Powerful anti-inflammatory drugs (steroids) may be used if the condition is caught early enough. The drugs may be used in combination with an antiviral drug called acyclovir.
Your doctor may recommend lubricating eye drops or eye ointments to protect the eye if it doesn't close completely. You may need to wear a patch over the eye while you sleep.
Your health care provider may recommend surgery to remove any tumors that are pressing on the facial nerve.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outlook varies. Some patients recover completely, while others permanently lose movement of the face.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if your face droops or you have other symptoms of facial nerve palsy.
Prevention Return to top
Quickly treating tumors or other growths that press down on the facial nerve may reduce the risk of facial nerve palsy in some cases.Update Date: 2/6/2008 Updated by: Daniel Kantor, MD, Director of the Comprehensive MS Center, Neuroscience Institute, University of Florida Health Science Center, Jacksonville, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.