Many of you probably heard the news about Justin Bieber recently suffering from a rare disorder called Ramsay Hunt Syndrome that causes facial paralysis. Pretty crazy and scary, right?! The condition caused paralysis in one side of Bieber’s face making it so that he is unable to blink or smile on the affected side.

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The good news is, that in most cases facial paralysis is temporary, though about 30% of people will develop chronic facial paralysis.

Whether temporary or chronic there are ways of treating Ramsay Hunt Syndrome as well as other types of facial paralysis such as Bell’s Palsy, and one of the simplest and most effective treatments is actually via Botox or other neurotoxin injections.

That’s right. What we love about Botox is that it’s a fantastic cosmetic treatment, but was actually originally and continues to be indicated and used for medical concerns, one of them being facial paralysis. It can also treat medical conditions including chronic migraines and hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), amongst others.

The Development of Facial Paralysis

There are different kinds of facial paralysis and perhaps the most commonly known type is Bell’s Palsy. The condition that Justin Bieber recently announced that he had, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, is actually often misdiagnosed as Bell’s Palsy, as symptoms are quite similar.

Bell’s Palsy is a condition that can come on suddenly and doctors describe it as a weakening or paralysis of the facial muscles. It’s typically caused when damage is done to the facial nerves that control muscle movement in the face.

The reason why Bell’s Palsy occurs in certain individuals is not really clear. It can be caused by swelling or inflammation of the facial nerves, and it’s believed that it might be a reaction to certain viral infections. The good news is that in most cases it’s temporary and improves over time, typically within about 6 months of the onset of symptoms.

Justin Bieber’s condition, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, is similar but not the same. It’s known that Ramsay Hunt Syndrome occurs when damage is done to the facial nerves by the virus that causes chickenpox and the shingles.

The condition can cause temporary paralysis in the face, but also overall pain, as well as a rash, and in some cases even hearing loss in the affected ear. In his recent Instagram post describing the condition, Justin Bieber said the virus affected the nerves in his ear in particular, and led to the paralysis of one side of his face.

Treating Facial Paralysis with Botox Injections

Many patients suffering from facial paralysis (whether Bell’s Palsy, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, or another condition) find some relief in regular Botox treatments.

Botox is a neurotoxin that blocks the release of the neurotransmitter that nerves rely on to instruct your muscles to move, typically contracting or tightening the muscles, which cause us to make facial expressions like frowning or smiling.

When a patient suffers from facial paralysis on one side of the face, Botox is injected in order to help relax the muscles on the non-paralyzed side of the face, which start working in overdrive to overcompensate for the muscles that are paralyzed.

Some facial paralysis patients might also suffer from something called synkinesis, which is basically involuntary movements of the face, and Botox can also help treat this condition, temporarily relieving these unintentional movements.

So as much as Justin Bieber’s condition can sound very disruptive and serious—and it is, as it required him to postpone several dates of his tour—if you’re someone who’s experienced a similar disorder, rest assured that there are ways to treat it and to offer temporary relief with something as simple and effective as regular neurotoxin treatments.