MS & Bells Palsy

  • I do not have a definite diagnosis of MS. I have been diagnosed with Optic Neuritis & possible MS, but with no lesions Neurologist does not want to do lumbar puncture right now. One of my biggest problems when I have a flare up is that the left side of my body goes numb & I suffer from Bells Palsy. Since my latest episode I have noticed that when I am tired or stressed my left eye will start to drop slightly. Has anyone else experienced Bells Palsy with MS?



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  • I was first dx with Bells Palsy (twitching of my face in all different areas), then a few months later dx with MS.

  • Thanks for your reply Dawn! The Bells Palsy occurs every 2-3 years but with no lesions I have no MS diagnosis. This is my first diagnosis of Optic Neuritis though. My Neurologist says it can take as long as 5 years after Optic Neuritis appears to get a definite diagnosis of MS. Other Dr's have said that a migraine can cause Bells Palsy but I am convinced there is a correlation between MS & Bells Palsy.

  • I had a Bells Palsy flare in 2006. It started with my scalp going numb, then down exactly the left side of my face. I figured it was an MS attack so I went to the neuro. The first thing he said was try to smile. HE laughed and said this is not MS, I think it's Bells Palsy. I had never heard of it. He then asked if I had a recent ear infection that I did not treat with antibiotics. Which I did about 5 months before this, but I did take meds for it. So they think ear infections play a part because the facial nerve is located in the ear. Oh and when he looked in my ears, he said my left ear was shaped weird on the inside. But the treatment for Bells Palsy was a course of prednisone. Now for about the past 2 months the left side of my face has been twitching, and like freezing in place. Super annoying!

  • Fatigue is what brings on the twitching for me. The first bout with it was several months long and was constant twitching somewhere on my face. Now it just flares briefly here and there when I don't sleep well.

  • Thank you both! Mine is very specific to the left side of my body, not just my face & no ear infection. I went to the ER where they rushed me back thinking I was having a stroke, but no signs of a stroke or brain tumor. The ER doctor said Bells Palsy is specific to the face, not the entire body, yet I still walked out of there with a Bells Palsy diagnosis. I'm not sure if I should push for a lumbar puncture or just wait for next episode now that I have a relationship with a Neurologist. From stiff and extremely painful hips and legs, to suddenly transposing letters when writing, forgetfulness, and Optic Neuritis...there are plenty of signs. I guess it might be best to just give it time? Seems like when a flare up is coming, I am so tired. This last time I slept for nearly 2 weeks & wondered if mono could flare up even though I had it almost 20 yrs ago. Even though I don't have a definite diagnosis, it's nice to know I'm not alone.

  • hi. I just saw your post and it looks so similar to what I had experienced, I was rushed into a and e with a letter by my gp with bells palsy like symptoms, (lower left side of the face drooping ) balence all over the place and optical neuritis, I subsequently fell on the lady who told me to shut my eyes and stand still. I think she must have been a student lol I too get very tired all the time have also gone totally deaf in the one side for a week before dx, but a dx doesn't make a difference to the symptoms without treatment, but does alot for yoursef in the reasons for why things are happening to your body it't not your imagination there is areason why your body is going haywire and it's very good justification to myself when I contantly forget things allthough very frustrating . You are not alone and ms or not there are alot of people out there who know what you are talking about. Take care and push for a diagnosis or more testing if you think it will help you.

  • I found this thread to be very interesting. I have never heard about a connection between Bell's and MS before, but now I'm thinking about it. My mom and I both have MS. My older sister had Bell's when she was 17 which never completely resolved. My son, who's now 11, had Bell's when he was 2, resolved completely. Weird, huh?!

  • My husbands step-mother had MS & her symptoms started with Bells Palsy. When I had my first incident of it, my father-in-law told my husband that he would be willing to bet I had MS. I could hardly walk, hold onto walls to keep my balance. To be honest, the episodes I have had are quite a blur. My step-mother also has MS & she had one incident of Bells Palsy & also had Optic Neuritis several years before her diagnosis. It does seem that there is a strange coincidence.

  • wow. i had bells palsy in 2010 since then my symptoms have lead my family doctor to think i have ms one brain mri 1 leason. now for a t scan & mri of the spinal cord. My vision has gotten a lot worse since then to really blurry. here is a list of all my other symptoms:• Tingling & Numbness in my arms, legs & feet (pins & needles)

    • Pins & Needles deep in the head.

    • Shaking or twitching in the hands & feet

    • Toes in right feet hurt. Cannot walk on (walking on rocks bare foot)

    • Toes Twitch when sore

    • Weakness

    • Loss of strength

    • Sensitive when touched

    • Moodiness

    • Loss of appetite (eat small amounts)

    • Weight loss

    • Ringing in the ears

    • No ambition

    • Tired - Fatigued

    • Loss of patience

    • Loss of concentration

    • Left boob feels like knifes going through.

    • Feels like Charley horse (Campy) in Legs & feet. Wakes me up at night from pain.

    • Muscle spasms.

    • Stabbing pains in Chest & abdomen.

    • No Colds, Runny noses, Flu’s last 2.5 years.

    • Trouble with writing, spelling or trying to figure something out.

  • I was diagnosed with Bellls Palsy 11 weeks ago after a long trip to E.R. for stroke symptoms. After the MRI I was told that I have a spot on my brain that looks like MS, but the doctors never went further with that. My Bells is pretty severe affecting both sides of my face although the right side is not severely affected, just the left. The hardest part is the exhaustion that I experience, I find it very frustrating. I am averaging 10 - 12 hours of sleep a day. Is anyone else experiencing that?

  • Kim,

    Bells only affects one side. I was rushed to the ER with stroke symptoms and diagnosed with Bells went in for my follow up and sent straight back to the ER because my GP noticed that yes the right side of my face was dropping but the left side was not doing anything at all, no blinking in the left eye. I was in the hospital for over a week being tested for everything then they did a spinal and ruled every thing else out and was diagnosed with MS

  • Hi, I had Bells late 2010 to my right face and Eventually I assumed it was cured in a course of 5 months medication (Homeopathy) and Physiotheraphy , Whats startled me is I developed the same Syndrome to my left part of the face . It started a Couple of days Ago and now I think I have to wait for 5-6 more months which will be 2012 :( . Does any one have any suggestions like how to prevent this before it hits us ??

  • Bells can affect both sides of your face, as it has with me, although it is rare. It was more severe on the left side than the right, and at this point the right is healed but the left is not, although it is much better than it was. It has been 6 months.

    I recently read that the virus which causes Bells Palsy is also the same virus that causes cold sores. I purchased the vitamin Lysine which is used to help cold sores and has been affective in treating Bells. I have tried so many other treatments both homeopathic and prescription drugs, but nothing has made too much of an impact, I am hoping this works.

  • This is all good info for me. I was dx wutg ms 18 years ago. And now it appears ihave bells palsy on the left side of my face.

  • MS and Bells were certainly linked in my case. I was diagnosed with MS in 2001 and had Bells etc in 2005. I had double vision, caused by 6th nerve palsy, which then moved to the next nerve and became Bell's Palsy. Had intravenous steroids for 3 days, which kept everything at bay.

    Very interested in the point made about never having colds, coughs etc. Is this common in people with MS? I have gone over 4 years without a cold, despite a job teaching, which means I am surrounded by germy teenagers!

  • After the 1st year I was having anxiety attacks that my doctor called Bells Palsy. Had anxiety attacks before but nothing like that. Went on for a year, had to take anxiety meds

  • Hi Nacola,

    How strange. I haven't ever heard of anxiety being called Bell's Palsy. To the best of my knowledge Bells is a physical symptom, which generally causes one side of the face to droop. Some people get it on both sides, which must feel very strange indeed! Are you in England or the USA?

  • I live in the US. My doctor hadn't either but would only last 5 to 15 min. I thought I was having mini strokes. Still on the anxiety meds

  • That must have been very frightening for you. I hope the meds are helping you?

    I am in the North West of England. My youngest son is over in the US, working as a football (soccer!) coach until November. We miss him, but he loves your country. He is made so welcome by everyone and you all seem to be so positive about everything!

    I hope you are generally keeping ok and managing to have a life you can enjoy :)

    Tracey x

  • I also had Bell's. But I had it about 15 years ago. Waiting on a diagnosis of MS but 90% sure I have it. Great site here!!!

  • In 1981 I had what my neurologist thought was Bell's Palsy and treated it with prednisone and I had a complete recovery. Symptoms mirrored Bell's and, at that time, MRI's were not yet available. In 1986 I had Optic Neuritis. I went to my Opthomoligust who said it was not an eye problem but rather a something attacking the nerve. Either MS or Lupus. Back to the Neurologist and MRI's were now available. After the MRI he apologized for the misdiagnosis of Bell's 5 years earlier and said I have MS. From 1986 to 2011 was was Relapsing-Remitting Begnign and from 2003 to 5 weeks ago I was on the DMD Avonex. MRI's showed small lesion development but nothing I would have really noticed. In October 2011 I got sick...very sick. Went to my Neurologist and after numerous MRI's and continued neurological decline, I was recently told my Relapsing-Remitting had changed to Secondary Progressive MS. The decline is rather rapid and I use a can full time now. Fatigue is probably the worst symptom but other Paroxysmal symptoms are persistent. I just started taking the oral Tecfidera (BG-12) but it will not corrext my loss. Hopefully it will slow the progression.

    I sincerely hope this helps some people with understanding this disease. The moral is I had 25 pretty great years and I am not an abnormality after having the disease this long. Best advice is stay positive. I am changing but there is still a great plan for me. I am a Christian and I firmly believe that God is guiding me in a new direction.

  • I had Bells Palsy when I was 11; the damage/droop never went away on the left side of my face. I was also not taken to the doctor when it happened. When I was 19, a doctor sent me for testing because he thought I had a stroke. Was told that it was Bells Palsy at that time. As I have gotten older, the drooping has gotten worse; I also continue to have periodic twitching on the left side of my face.

    At age 30, while pregnant with my son, I lost my vision. Was taken to the ER and told to go back and see neurologist after giving birth (vision returned to normal by early evening in ER).

    Saw neurologist after having my son (1994), neurologist did MRI and lumbar puncture. MRI showed 7 lesions, lumbar puncture was negative. She diagnosed me with MS. At that time, the betaserons were fairly new and through discussions with her we decided not to start any of them at the time (we weighed the side effects vs the symptoms I was having at the time and felt the side effects were worse than my then symptoms).

    I had no problems/symptoms for years... In 2004, I had a lot of numbness, cognitive issues, feeling not with it, fatigue, lightheadedness, twitching, tingling, etc. We were in SC at this time and I saw a neurologist there. He did MRI and lumbar puncture - there were 11 lesions and lumbar puncture was negative. This neurologist said I had migraine aura without having migraine and it was not MS.

    In 2007 symptoms were pretty bad and debilitating; saw a different neurologist since we had moved to another place in SC. This time MRI showed 33 lesions with negative spinal. Was told to see another neurologist in the area to see if he thought it was MS or not. The second neurologist ran some testing for epilepsy, seizures, lupus and cadisil, and all came back negative. He said I did NOT have MS and it was normal to have these lesions with aging and my brain looked like someone in their 60's; I was 44 at this time. This neurologist said nothing needed to be done.

    In 2012 I was in MN (where original neurologist was) and started losing my footing. I would lose my balance and start to fall, but was able to catch myself, along with other symptoms mentioned above which were worse than they were.

    Doctor in MN did MRI, lumbar puncture and many, many blood tests for any mimicker of MS. MRI showed 50+ lesions, some of which were large, spinal was negative and all blood work for mimickers came back negative. She looked at all the information/MRI's over the previous 20 years, consulted with numerous other doctors in her practice and said that I DID HAVE MS and the main objective at this point in time is to prevent any new lesions. After discussing treatment options, we decided on Avonex. I have been symptom free for the last year and recent MRI shows no new or active lesions.

  • Oh dear, now got a relapse, having been well for ages! I too don't get colds any more. Only about one every 4 years, which is great, as I am a teacher, so subject to lots of germy teenagers!

    However I went to bed last Friday feeling fine, then woke on Saturday with Optic Neuritis! Over the following days I have gradually worsened, to the point I am now only able to see shadows in my right eye. My left eye remains unaffected so far. I am concerned that my symptoms may worsen if I don't take time off work to rest, but we are currently under threat of redundancy and I don't want a negative profile!

  • Tracey, I'm so sorry to notice you are have a relapse. I have been reading this post for a while and I really appreciate all the information. I had bells palsy when I was 15. Now again at 61. I had in January on right side of face and took 8 wks to go away. Then one week later it returned on left side of face. I have had several tests. No one has said I have MS. I hope that's good. But this post doesn't make my recurrence look positive. I guess we'll see. Anyway, I truly hope you are doing better. Thanks.

  • Hi Janet, thank you for the good wishes!

    I wouldn't worry too much, as most people with Bell's Palsy are not found to have MS :) !

    As a matter of interest, have you ever had glandular fever. It is often common in teenagers, and is often known as "the kissing disease'.

    I would be surprised if you were to be diagnosed at 61 with Multiple Sclerosis. I was diagnosed at 36, while very few people are diagnosed beyond the age of forty.

    I hope you get well soon and are resting so that the Bell's goes away quickly. Best wishes, Tracey xx

  • Tracey, yes I had that fever. thanks again for the info. You didn't say if you are doing any better??? My prayers and love go to you. It's amazing how much your eyes can be opened when they don't work so well. I have really learned a lot about medicine and many problems I don't have and I have a newfound love for so many. Thanks again for replying to me.

    janet

  • Hi Janet,

    Thank you for asking, and for the good wishes :) . I am better, thank you, and going back to work on Monday.

    If you had glandular fever then you were exposed to a particular virus, known as Epstein Barr. It seems there is often a link between that and MS. There are several tests you can have to diagnose MS, including an MRI scan. However, to a definitive diagnosis you need a lumbar puncture. I think you call it a spinal tap? If you have MS you have something called Oligloconic Bands in your spinal fluid. It is an absolute diagnosis. If you go that route, please lie flat for several hours afterwards. If you don't, the pain will be awful for a week or more. My pain was so bad my doc thought I may have meningitis. Lying flat for several hours straight after the procedure saves you enduring that.

    My best advice is that if you do decide to find out, once you know, nothing has changed. You had it before you found out. You still have it after. You aren't more sick. You are simply better informed and can treat the illness with the respect it demands. If you do that, the quality of your life improves, not decreases. I hope that is of some help to you, and good luck with your ongoing health journey! Love T xx