Partial face paralysis

wickedwilfred

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My mare has just returned from 5 weeks at a stud farm with a partially paralysed face - of course nobody there knows anything about it. Her tongue is askew, she has limited use of her lips for eating and the area under her jaw is inflamed. My vet has looked at it and said it is nerve damage caused by wearing a too tight headcollar 24/7, but I am not convinced. She is well in herself apart from this, appears to be in no pain and is eating and drinking well. Does anyone else have experience of this condition and how it should be treated ? I am told the nerve damage should get better over time. I am using anti-inflammatory gels, but reluctant to give her anything internally as she is in foal.
 

peanut

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I'm no expert but it sounds like the equivalent of a Bell's palsy in humans. In humans, sometimes they correct themselves, sometimes not.

Not much help but you could mention this condition to the vet and see if it exists in horses.
 

tallyho!

Wearing a headscarf intriguingly....
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If it is equivalent of bells palsy, I know two people who've had it and went away by itself and is to do with nerve damage in the jaw.
 

be positive

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I knew one years ago that had one side paralysed but cannot remember why, don't think it was a kick but it could have been an injury in the stable, from my vague recollection he did return to near normal but it took ages, not much help to you other than nerves, if they are not totally destroyed, do regenerate over time.
My own horse more recently had an horrific mouth injury inflicted by misuse of a chifney while at the vets, he was partially paralysed in his mouth and jaw which actually prevented him drinking as he could not get the required suction, his whole face was swollen as well as part of his neck/ throat, eating was ok, he took almost 9 weeks to recover the ability to drink and even longer to get over it mentally but he has fully recovered. Forgot he also had a twitch on for far too long his nose took over a week to be normal.

I would wonder if they restrained her in a rather similar way as I wouldn't expect a headcollar to do that much harm in just 5 weeks and would not think they could have been so inexperienced they would have used one so obviously tight from day 1, but you never know.
 

ycbm

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I know of one who was kicked (he was a very aggressive horse and got what he was asking for). I'm afraid it never came right, but it didn't seem to bother him. The paralysis was one side, from the ear down. His eye drooped but was still open.
 

SEL

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My own horse more recently had an horrific mouth injury inflicted by misuse of a chifney while at the vets, he was partially paralysed in his mouth and jaw which actually prevented him drinking as he could not get the required suction, his whole face was swollen as well as part of his neck/ throat, eating was ok, he took almost 9 weeks to recover the ability to drink and even longer to get over it mentally but he has fully recovered. Forgot he also had a twitch on for far too long his nose took over a week to be normal. .
I think I would have shoved the chifney into the vet's mouth if they'd done that to either of mine! That's awful.
 

be positive

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I think I would have shoved the chifney into the vet's mouth if they'd done that to either of mine! That's awful.
I would have if I had known, it was only once home that I realised there was an issue unrelated to the hind leg that he went in for treatment on, I did create a fuss/ formal complaint but was basically stonewalled when they backtracked, then denied they had even used one, I had it in writing that he had "been restrained in a chifney and twitch" but they changed the story to "he was held in a normal headcollar" and guess who was believed!! the fact they changed their story was not even picked up on by the people supposedly checking on misconduct, my evidence was not believed despite never changing, yet 2 vets lied in writing and were believed, not much more you can do other than change vets and move on.

Just to add the paralysis was only part of what they caused, his lower jaw was cut to the bone, xrays later showed changes where the bone had been damaged and healed.
 

SEL

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I would have if I had known, it was only once home that I realised there was an issue unrelated to the hind leg that he went in for treatment on, I did create a fuss/ formal complaint but was basically stonewalled when they backtracked, then denied they had even used one, I had it in writing that he had "been restrained in a chifney and twitch" but they changed the story to "he was held in a normal headcollar" and guess who was believed!! the fact they changed their story was not even picked up on by the people supposedly checking on misconduct, my evidence was not believed despite never changing, yet 2 vets lied in writing and were believed, not much more you can do other than change vets and move on.

Just to add the paralysis was only part of what they caused, his lower jaw was cut to the bone, xrays later showed changes where the bone had been damaged and healed.
That's disgusting - your poor horse. So glad to hear he recovered in the end.

I'm not anti restraining - I've used a twitch recently when a vet needed to get to a back leg without getting kicked in the head - but to cause damage like you've described is one h*ll of an over-use. Not following up a misconduct complaint properly just means they are at liberty to do it again - and how on earth any investigation could think damage like that could be done by a headcollar is beyond me. Closing ranks I guess.....
 

wickedwilfred

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Thank you for all your views and it sounds as though it is going to take a long time to fix. I was told that the facial nerve damage is quite commonly caused by badly fitted headcollars. Apparently the nerves go down either side of the horse's face and emerge just below the jaw where the noseband and metal rings lie - square ones are the worst. If these cause pressure for a long period of time, damage to the nerves can occur. As we never turn our horses out with headcollars on, it isn't something I have come across before.
 

Northern

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I know of a horse this happened to - she went through a fence as a weanling and her face was noticeably droopy and nerve damage was diagnosed.
It took a lot of time and the owners had regular massages and also acupuncture (whether that helped or not, who knows!). If you saw the horse today, you wouldn't notice what happened.
It did take a good 3 years for the nerves to regenerate though. I would be ropeable if my horse came back with a noticeable injury and nothing had been said to me though :( Best of luck with her.
 

wickedwilfred

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Three weeks on and no improvement. A bit of head shaking going on as whatever it is must be irritating, but still eating well. Tried the osteopath, acupuncture and homeopathic remedies which have not helped as yet, but interesting Northern says it will take a long time. What does worry me is that the length of her tongue is clearly swollen and you can see this from the channel where her tongue lies on the underside of her head. I am going to have to have it scanned I think, but have to be careful as she is in foal.
 
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