There's no specific test for Bell's palsy. Your doctor will look at your face and ask you to move your facial muscles by closing your eyes, lifting your brow, showing your teeth and frowning, among other movements.
Other conditions — such as a stroke, infections, Lyme disease and tumors — can also cause facial muscle weakness, mimicking Bell's palsy. If it's not clear why you're having the symptoms you are, your doctor may recommend other tests, including:
Dec. 16, 2014
- Electromyography (EMG). This test can confirm the presence of nerve damage and determine its severity. An EMG measures the electrical activity of a muscle in response to stimulation and the nature and speed of the conduction of electrical impulses along a nerve.
- Imaging scans. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) may be needed on occasion to rule out other possible sources of pressure on the facial nerve, such as a tumor or skull fracture.
- Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 14, 2014.
- Glass GE, et al. Bell's palsy: A summary of current evidence and referral algorithm. Family Practice. In press. Accessed Nov. 14, 2014.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2015: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 14, 2014.
- Bell's palsy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/bells/detail_bells.htm. Accessed Nov. 14, 2014.
- Ronthal M. Bell's palsy: Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 15, 2014.
- Ronthal M. Bell's palsy: Prognosis and treatment in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 15, 2014.
- Facial nerve palsy. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic_disorders/neuro-ophthalmologic_and_cranial_nerve_disorders/facial_nerve_palsy.html?qt=&sc=&alt=. Accessed Nov.16, 2014.
- AskMayoExpert. What is the initial therapy recommended for patients with Bell palsy? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.