Bell’s Palsy is a condition that causes sudden weakness or paralysis of the facial muscle. The exact causes of this ailment are unknown, and patients with facial paralysis typically heal within weeks or months. The conventional treatment methods for it include physical therapy and medicine intake. An alternative treatment is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. To use a TENS unit for Bell’s Palsy, the user must apply electrodes on the target area and adjust the settings accordingly.
Facial nerve palsy is a condition typically associated with viral infections. It is usually not a serious condition, but it can cause psychological distress due to the facial asymmetry it causes. This is why many explore different treatments to speed up recovery. Fortunately, TENS can help alleviate pain and speed up recovery using electrical stimulation. This article will present information on TENS units, how to apply them for facial nerve palsy, and their benefits.
What is a TENS Unit for Bell’s Palsy?
Bell’s Palsy is a neurological condition that causes facial muscle weakness or paralysis on one side of the face. Various ailments are associated with causing facial palsy. In most cases, it is a temporary condition that results from facial nerve injury. To help treat it, many use various medicines and other conventional therapy methods. Electric stimulation using a TENS unit for Bell’s Palsy is another option.
A TENS machine is an electric stimulation device that uses externally applied electrodes to deliver low-voltage electric pulses. Facial nerve paralysis patients can use this device to stimulate the body for pain alleviation and help with facial nerve regeneration. TENS units are often seen in medical settings since they are commonly used with physical therapy and other forms of treatment.
Individuals may purchase personal TENS machines for electrical stimulation therapy. Generally, there are two types available. Handheld or wired machines have lead cables to link the electrode pads and control unit. Some have single, dual, or quad-channels that allow a pair of electrodes to connect. Meanwhile, wireless TENS devices remove the restriction of cables by using Bluetooth to control the electrodes.
Causes and Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy
- High blood pressure
- Lyme disease: an illness typically caused by a bite from a tick causing a bacterial infection.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): a virus that attacks the immune system.
- Adenovirus: a common cause of respiratory illnesses. It can also affect various parts of the body.
- Quick onset of mild weakness to complete facial paralysis.
- Facial muscle drooping that inhibits the ability to control facial expressions.
- Hyperacusis or hypersensitivity to sound on the affected side.
- Headaches and pain around the affected area.
- Tearing or drooling due to the change in the amount of tears or saliva.
- Weakened sense of taste.
Application of TENS Unit for Bell’s Palsy
Using a TENS unit for Bell’s Palsy is a straightforward process. Nevertheless, it is essential to take precautions to ensure safety. Hence, the user should study the instruction manual as well. Before starting, they should wash their face to remove excess oils, creams, or dirt that may affect pad adhesion.
When placing electrodes, the general guide is to apply them on muscles near or on the pain source. Once secured, the individual should connect the pads to the controller. Then, they may turn the machine on. It is best to start on low settings to avoid sudden shocks or discomfort. Afterwards, the user may gradually increase the frequency, intensity, and pulse duration settings or select a preset mode.
Typically, TENS sessions last between 15 to 30 minutes. Afterwards, the user may turn the machine off and remove the electrodes. For those who wish to continue using TENS for longer periods, they must take a break in between sessions to prevent adverse effects from overuse.
Proper Electrode Placement
Proper electrode placement is crucial for effective TENS therapy. Facial Palsy patients must apply the electrodes near the jaw or in front of the ear on the affected side. This will allow the electrical stimulation to reach the targeted nerves.
They must ensure the adhesive pads are securely connected to prevent accidents. Furthermore, the user must avoid sensitive areas when using TENS on the facial muscles. This includes the eyes, mouth, top of the head, and throat. They should also refrain from applying pads on skin with infection or irritation since the electrical stimulation could worsen the condition.
Benefits of a TENS Unit for Bell’s Palsy
It may take weeks to months for the complete recovery of a patient with facial nerve palsy. Hence, there are many benefits to using a TENS unit for Bell’s Palsy. Firstly, TENS is a non-invasive and drug-free treatment. This removes the risks of complications from injections or incisions. It also allows the person to avoid the adverse effects of medicines.
Secondly, TENS provides natural relief by triggering the pain gate mechanism and endorphin production. In particular, endorphins can help reduce stress and inflammation, which can improve the quality of life. Thirdly, it complements various forms of treatment, including physical therapy, making it suitable for many people. Lastly, TENS can help speed up facial nerve regeneration and recovery by increasing blood flow to the area.
People may purchase personal TENS units online or in pharmacies. Some also rent out units for hire. They are easy to self-administer and are safe for most people. Nevertheless, consulting a healthcare professional is ideal before using electrical stimulation devices. They may advise on how to properly use the machine and how to deal with potential side effects.
Potential Side Effects
TENS therapy is safe for most people to use. However, some may experience temporary side effects. Firstly, some people may experience allergic reactions from the adhesives or the materials of the TENS pads. To prevent this, they may use hypoallergenic pads.
Secondly, some individuals may feel tingling sensations and muscle twitching while using facial nerve stimulation. This is normally due to using high intensities. Hence, lowering the intensity settings or stopping the session should allow these effects to fade. However, if these persist or become severe, the facial paralysis patient should consult a healthcare professional.
A TENS unit for Bell’s Palsy is an effective tool that can help with alleviating pain and speeding up the recovery of facial paralysis patients. There are handheld and wireless units that individuals can use without medical supervision. To conduct a TENS therapy session for facial nerve palsy, the user must apply the TENS pads near the jaw or in front of the ear of the affected side. Afterwards, they may adjust the settings or select a preset program.
There are many benefits to using TENS therapy. It is non-invasive and drug-free. It also provides natural relief that is complementary to other treatment methods. However, consulting a medical professional is essential before undergoing electrical stimulation therapy. They may also advise on how to effectively use the unit for additional safety. Those interested in purchasing a wireless TENS machine may consider the iTENS from iTENS Australia.