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Facial Palsy

Twitching, weakness, or paralysis of the face is symptoms of a disorder involving the facial nerve, not a disease in itself. Abnormal movement or paralysis of the face can result from infection, injury, or tumours, and an evaluation by your physician is needed to determine the cause.

An otolaryngologist – head and neck surgeon has special training and experience in managing facial nerve disorders.

The facial nerve resembles a telephone cable and contains 7,000 individual nerve fibres. Each fibre carries electrical impulses to a specific facial muscle. Information passing along the fibres of this nerve allows us to laugh, cry, smile, or frown, hence the name, “the nerve of facial expression.”

When half or more of these individual nerve fibres are interrupted, facial weakness occurs. If these nerve fibres are irritated, then movements of the facial muscles appear as spasms or twitching. The facial nerve not only carries nerve impulses to the muscles of the face, but also to the tear glands, to the saliva glands, and to the muscle of the stirrup bone in the middle ear (the stapes). It also transmits taste from the front of the tongue. Since the function of the facial nerve is so complex, many symptoms may occur when the fibres of the facial nerve are disrupted. A disorder of the facial nerve may result in twitching, weakness, or paralysis of the face, in dryness of the eye or the mouth, or in disturbance of taste.

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