Acupuncture has been found to reverse facial paralysis caused by Bell’s palsy
What is Bell’s Palsy?
The name Bell’s palsy comes from the 19th century Scottish anatomist and surgeon, Sir Charles Bell, who discovered that severing the 7th cranial/facial nerve causes facial paralysis.
In Bell’s palsy there is inflammation around the facial nerve and this pressure causes facial paralysis on the affected side.
Bell’s palsy affects between 20-30 per 100,000 people per year.
It is the commonest cause of facial palsy, accounting for 80% of all cases and occurs most commonly between the ages of 15-45
Women in the third trimester of pregnancy (the last three months) are at increased risk of developing Bell’s palsy.
In addition, there appears to be a higher incidence of Bell’s palsy in winter.
What causes Bell’s palsy?
Bell’s palsy is an idiopathic condition, meaning there is no conclusive cause for the condition.
It has not been established why the facial nerve becomes compressed. Links have been made with viruses (herpes, influenza and respiratory tract infections) as well as a depleted immune system and stress.
Some scientists suggest that Bell’s palsy involves neurodegeneration due to ischaemia (restricted blood flow) or oedema (fluid build-up) although most cases have no definite cause.
Bell’s palsy often comes on suddenly, without warning, over a number of hours, peaking at 72 hours.
The main symptoms are:
- Partial or complete paralysis of (usually) one half of the face (including the inability to close the affected eye), sometimes accompanied by a ‘drooping’ of the affected side of the face, depending on the severity of the nerve damage.
- In approximately one per cent of cases, both sides of the face are affected.
- Sharp pain in the inner ear during the onset of paralysis.
- Impaired or altered sense of taste.
- Sensitivity to loud noise.
- A drying of the eye on the affected side, where the eye cannot be closed properly. Sometimes the inability to close the eye properly can result in the eye watering, as it over-compensates for being too dry. It’s important to use drops/ointments to keep the eye lubricated.
- Difficulty with eating, due to loss of control of the lips and cheek on one side; food may get trapped in some areas as a result, and there may be involuntary drooling.
- Difficulty with speaking clearly, particularly with pronouncing particular sounds and letters, such as ‘B’ and ‘P’.
- Streaming nostril on the affected side, due to loss of muscle control around the nose.
Although no certain cause has been established, people newly diagnosed with Bell’s palsy should understand that they are unwell.
It is important to get plenty of rest even if they have no other symptoms. If you are at work or school, it may be necessary to take some time to recover.
Recovery usually takes a few weeks but it sometimes takes months. Steroids can be effective if they are given within 72 hours of onset and antivirals are also used.
In my experience, there is another option….
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment
My mum had Bell’s palsy about 20 years ago and her GP recommended that she try acupuncture, with great outcomes. In fact, this was my first ever encounter with acupuncture!!
Acupuncture has been found to reverse the facial paralysis caused by Bell’s palsy.
A recent study has shown a 90-98% clinical success rate using acupuncture. Patients receiving medication only had a 60% success rate.
The use of electroacupuncture can enhance the effectiveness of acupuncture too.
When treating Bell’s palsy, an acupuncturist will use some points on the face, some points on the hands and some points on the legs and feet.
The number of treatments required varies from person to person and can depend on factors such as the severity of the symptoms and whether the case is chronic or acute.
Generally though, I find that around 5-6 sessions sees a good improvement.
Are you thinking of trying acupuncture for Bell’s palsy?
Get in touch with Eileen here, by phone, by email or by booking a free 15 minute phone consultation:
Call on 07773332553