A young woman who suffers from a painful facial condition which leaves her struggling to smile is raising awareness of the condition.
Sophie Hargreaves, aged 20, from Grenoside, Sheffield, got Bell’s palsy in April 2014, exactly one week after her 17th birthday.
She said: “I was given steroids, eye drops and painkillers and sent on my way. It was embarrassing and I didn’t want to leave the house but I did. Luckily I had a lot of support from my friends and family.”
Bell’s palsy, which is often confused with a stroke, is actually the most common cause of facial paralysis although doctors do not know what causes it to happen.
The face drops suddenly on one side often within a few hours leaving the person unable to close the eye and smile. They also have difficulty speaking, eating and drinking.
Sophie says: “I was in college at the time and got sent home on multiple occasions due to extreme headaches and pains in my cheek and jawline. My doctor told me you can’t get pain with Bell’s palsy but she later admitted she was wrong.
“A lot of people recover from this condition but I didn’t. I have developed something called synkinesis which causes painful tightness in my face and involuntary movements. My eye now closes when I smile and my mouth moves when I close my eye.”
Sophie is supporting Facial Palsy UK’s campaign during Facial Palsy Awareness Week, which runs from today until March 7. Visit www.facialpalsy.org.uk for more information.