Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Bell's palsy syndrome: mimics and chameleons
  1. Geraint Fuller,
  2. Cathy Morgan
  1. Department of Neurology, Gloucester Royal Hospital, Gloucester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Geraint Fuller, Department of Neurology, Gloucester Royal Hospital, Great Western Road, Gloucester GL1 3NN, UK; geraint.fuller{at}


In this article we will explore the mimics and chameleons of Bell's palsy and in addition argue that we should use the term ‘Bell's palsy syndrome’ to help guide clinical reasoning when thinking about patients with facial weakness. The diagnosis of Bell's palsy can usually be made on clinical grounds without the need for further investigations. This is because the diagnosis is not one of exclusion (despite this being commonly how it is described), a lower motor neurone facial weakness where all alternative causes have been eliminated, but rather a positive recognition of a clinical syndrome, with a number of exclusions, which are described below. This perhaps would be more accurately referred to a ‘Bell's palsy syndrome’. Treatment with corticosteroids improves outcome; adding an antiviral probably reduces the rates of long-term complications.


Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors GF conceived the idea and wrote the paper. CM was involved in the discussion of the paper and editing of the paper.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed. This paper was reviewed by Mary Reilly, London, UK.

Linked Articles

  • Editors' commentary
    Phil E M Smith Geraint N Fuller

Other content recommended for you