Q: I am a 25 years old male and have been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, please guide me about the exercises and what is this condition.

A: Bell’s Palsy causes sudden weakness/paralysis of the facial muscles due to swelling/inflammation of the facial nerve. It leads to drooping of eyelids and mouth, drooling, dryness of eyes, problems with eating and drinking, difficulty making expressions, etc.

It can occur at any age, although there is no definite cause but it may be caused by viral infection. It is recoverable and the period varies from a few weeks to about 6 months.

Physical therapy along with medications (prescribed after a checkup by a doctor) is recommended, a physical therapist applies specialized techniques for the condition. Facial massages are done as well as added to the home plan.

Exercises mostly include facial expressions (raising eyebrows, frowning, smiling, etc), blowing, sipping from a straw, chewing gum, holding a tongue depressor lips, clenching teeth, etc.

Make sure you use sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Q: My mother is 62 years old and she has had a lot of pain in her knees for about three years or so, It worsens when she walks, during stair climbing, and when she stands for a long time. She frequently massages with oil which is effective but the condition remains the same. Please guide me about the condition and physical therapy.

A: The symptoms that you have explained hint towards knee osteoarthritis which is a common concern at this age. The wear and tear in the joint causes reduced joint space, cushioning/shock absorption, and bony spur formation, which makes it quite difficult to perform daily life activities, especially weight-bearing and repeated joint movement.

An X-ray can be taken. It is a progressive condition but we can work on the management of pain and avoid wasting and weakening of the muscles through exercises and techniques.

Please take precautions, and avoid oil massages and vigorous rubbing as it does no good and leads to tightness of muscles, instead use a hot pack / hot water bottle or make a sandbag for heat. Avoid low sitting, do not keep your feet hanging while sitting, include rest breaks when standing/walking for a long time, and do not place a pillow under your knees to ease yourself (causes tightness of calf muscle). Walk briskly (short and rapid steps)