MEDICALLY REVIEWED

Joel Embiid’s Heroic 50 Points Despite Bell’s Palsy

joel embiid bell's palsy

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid delivered a stunning performance, scoring a career playoff-high 50 points, leading his team to a 125-114 victory over the New York Knicks. However, the highlight of the night was Embiid’s revelation that he has been battling Bell’s palsy, a medical condition causing facial muscle weakness.

Understanding Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s palsy is characterized by sudden, temporary weakness in the muscles on one side of the face. This condition often results in a drooping appearance, affecting the ability to blink or smile normally. The reactivation of the herpes virus within the facial nerve causes Bell’s palsy. This virus reactivation causes the facial nerve to swell. The swollen facial nerve then gets compressed by the temporal bone (the bone on which the ear sits), and the nerve fibers suddenly stop functioning. This sudden damage to the facial nerve results in the common presenting symptoms of Bell’s palsy:

One in 60 people will experience Bell’s Palsy in their lifetime.

For Embiid, the symptoms have been particularly challenging, affecting his left eye and mouth, “It’s been tough. But I’m not a quitter,” he said postgame, his resilience evident even as he donned sunglasses to address the media.

Medical Perspective on Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s palsy often improves over time, with many patients recovering significantly within three weeks and most experiencing complete recovery within six months. Treatment can involve medications such as corticosteroids to reduce inflammation or antiviral drugs if a viral infection is suspected.

While 70% of patients completely recover from Bell’s palsy, 30% do not fully recover and experience chronic facial asymmetry, facial tightness, synkinesis, and other symptoms of chronic Bell’s palsy.

Regarding his prognosis, Embiid shared, “With the conversations that I’ve had, it could be weeks, it could be months,” highlighting the unpredictable nature of recovery from this condition. His medical team will continue to monitor his condition closely, adjusting his treatment as necessary.

Embiid’s Battle on and off the Court

The onset of Bell’s palsy occurred just before the Sixers’ play-in game against the Miami Heat, with Embiid noting the condition started “a day or two before the Miami game.” In addition to facial muscle weakness, he has suffered from migraines, adding another layer of adversity to his playoff campaign.

Despite these challenges, Embiid remains determined, “It’s unfortunate, that’s the way I look at it. But it’s not an excuse – got to keep pushing.” His performance against the Knicks underscored his tenacity, connecting on 13 of 19 shots and making five of seven three-point attempts. Embiid also contributed eight rebounds and four assists to the team’s effort.

Looking Ahead

The Sixers’ playoff journey continues, with Embiid at the forefront both as a player and an inspiration. The team hopes to level the series in their next game against the Knicks. As Embiid battles Bell’s palsy, his courage and commitment to his team resonate not just with basketball fans but also with those who admire the human spirit’s resilience in the face of adversity.

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