What are the causes and treatments for facial diplegia?

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Facial diplegia, also known as bilateral facial paralysis or facial nerve palsy, is a condition characterized by weakness or paralysis of the muscles on both sides of the face. It can be caused by various factors and can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. In this article, we will explore the causes and treatments for facial diplegia, as well as the management strategies and exercises that can help individuals with this condition regain facial muscle strength and function.

Causes of Facial Diplegia

Facial diplegia can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Idiopathic: In some cases, the exact cause of facial diplegia is unknown, and it is referred to as idiopathic facial diplegia.
  • Genetic disorders: Certain genetic disorders, such as Moebius syndrome and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, can lead to facial diplegia.
  • Infections: Viral infections, such as Bell’s palsy, Lyme disease, and Guillain-Barré syndrome, can cause facial nerve damage and result in facial diplegia.
  • Trauma: Head injuries or trauma to the face can damage the facial nerves and lead to facial diplegia.
  • Tumors: Benign or malignant tumors in the brain or facial region can compress the facial nerves and cause facial diplegia.

Symptoms of Facial Diplegia

The symptoms of facial diplegia can vary depending on the severity of the condition, but commonly include:

  • Weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles on both sides of the face
  • Difficulty closing the eyes or mouth
  • Loss of facial expressions, such as smiling or frowning
  • Difficulty speaking or eating
  • Drooling
  • Eye dryness or excessive tearing

Treatment for Facial Diplegia

While there is no cure for facial diplegia, various treatment options can help manage the condition and improve facial muscle function. These include:

  • Physical therapy: Facial diplegia exercises and rehabilitation techniques can help strengthen the facial muscles and improve coordination. These exercises may include facial massage, stretching, and resistance training.
  • Medications: In some cases, medications such as corticosteroids or antiviral drugs may be prescribed to reduce inflammation or treat underlying infections that are causing facial diplegia.
  • Surgical interventions: In severe cases of facial diplegia, surgical procedures such as nerve grafting or muscle transfers may be considered to restore facial muscle function.
  • Assistive devices: Devices such as eye patches, lubricating eye drops, or facial slings can help manage specific symptoms associated with facial diplegia, such as eye dryness or difficulty closing the eyes.

Management of Facial Diplegia

In addition to medical interventions, there are several management strategies that individuals with facial diplegia can adopt to cope with the condition:

  • Protecting the eyes: Since facial diplegia can affect the ability to close the eyes fully, it is important to take measures to protect the eyes from dryness and injury. Using lubricating eye drops, wearing sunglasses, and using eye patches during sleep can help prevent complications.
  • Speech therapy: If facial diplegia affects speech and swallowing, working with a speech therapist can be beneficial. They can provide exercises and techniques to improve speech clarity and swallowing function.
  • Psychological support: Facial diplegia can have a significant impact on a person’s self-esteem and emotional well-being. Seeking support from a counselor or joining support groups can help individuals cope with the psychological challenges associated with the condition.

Facial Diplegia Exercises

Engaging in regular facial diplegia exercises can help improve muscle strength and coordination. Some exercises that may be beneficial include:

  • Facial massage: Gently massaging the facial muscles can help improve blood circulation and muscle tone.
  • Stretching exercises: Stretching the facial muscles by making exaggerated facial expressions, such as smiling or frowning, can help improve muscle flexibility.
  • Resistance training: Using resistance bands or fingers to provide resistance while performing facial movements can help strengthen the muscles.

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or a physical therapist before starting any exercise regimen to ensure safety and effectiveness.


Facial diplegia is a condition characterized by weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles on both sides of the face. While the causes of facial diplegia can vary, there are treatment options available to manage the condition and improve facial muscle function. Physical therapy, medications, surgical interventions, and assistive devices can all play a role in the treatment of facial diplegia. Additionally, adopting management strategies and engaging in facial diplegia exercises can help individuals cope with the condition and improve their quality of life. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of facial diplegia, it is important to seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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