Acupuncture and Facial Palsy (a/k/a Bell’s Palsy)
Nearly 40,000 people in the United States will be affected by a temporary paralysis of the face known as Bell’s Palsy. Bell’s palsy is a neurological disorder that manifests as a paralysis of the face. This disorder often affects only one side of the face. Bell’s palsy is thought to be a result of damage to the facial nerve that controls the muscles on one side of the face, which then causes those muscles to droop. The facial nerve damage that affects the facial muscles can also impact a person’s taste, saliva, or ability to cry. Bell’s palsy is most common in young adults, the elderly, diabetics, and pregnant women, but it can affect anyone.
This condition comes on overnight. The majority of patients wake with the facial muscles in paralysis and it’s a shock. Most people either have no previous symptoms, or they overlook the early warning signs, which are subtle and can include neck pain, pain behind the ear, or pain in the back of the head. People suffering with Bell’s palsy may have trouble with multiple facial functions such as closing their eyes, eating, and smiling. In addition, their speech can also become slurred. Luckily, Bell’s palsy is not the result of a stroke, and is also a temporary affliction.
How do we view “Facial Palsy” in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine?
In China, acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to assist in Bell’s palsy recovery, and the initial treatment goal according to TCM would be to expel Wind and resolve Damp, as well as to invigorate qi and promote blood circulation to the face. Consistent acupuncture treatments (usually recommended once or twice per week), can help soothe a patient and expedite resolution of paralysis, and enhance nerve function.
How can acupuncture help?
After conducting a thorough evaluation and a complete health history, an acupuncturist will use the information gathered to create a unique treatment plan to address your individual needs and concerns. Once they have identified which organ system or line of energy has become unbalanced, this helps them to find the “root” of your symptoms to treat you more effectively.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are a safe and natural way to treat your facial palsy. Acupuncture, herbs, meditation, dietary changes and gentle movement may be offered to correct your imbalances. These natural therapies support the body by nourishing and re-balancing.