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:
Mar. 27, 2012
- 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. X-ray imaging, 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.
- Ronthal M. Bell's palsy: Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- Bell's palsy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/bells/detail_bells.htm. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- Ronthal M. Bell's palsy: Prognosis and treatment in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- Bell's palsy. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic_disorders/neuro-ophthalmologic_and_cranial_nerve_disorders/bells_palsy.html?qt=&sc=&alt= . Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- Numthavaj P, et al. Corticosteroid and antiviral therapy for Bell's palsy: A network meta-analysis. BMC Neurology. 2011;11:1
- Van der Veen EL, et al. A small effect of adding antiviral agents in treating patients with severe bell palsy. Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. In press. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- McAllister K, et al. Surgical interventions for the early management of Bell's palsy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011;(2):CD007468. http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.