What is Bell’s Palsy?
Bell’s Palsy is the dysfunction of the seventh cranial nerve, also known as the facial nerve. This nerve is responsible for controlling the muscles of the entire front of the face. Typically, Bell’s Palsy manifests suddenly, often overnight, with a sudden onset of symptoms. These symptoms include one-sided weakness or paralysis of the face, auricular pain, and headache. Patients affected by Bell’s Palsy may find it difficult to close one eye, make facial expressions such as smiling, and may experience slurred speech. Additionally, eyes may tear, and there might be mild numbness and pain in the affected area. This impairment of the cranial nerve significantly impacts daily activities such as eating, drinking, and speaking, making it challenging for patients to maintain their normal routines.
What Causes Bell’s Palsy?
While the exact cause of Bell's Palsy remains unknown, it is believed to result from swelling and inflammation of the seventh cranial nerve, leading to reduced blood and oxygen supply to the nerve cells, potentially causing nerve damage. Another theory suggests that swelling and inflammation may also be triggered by a latent herpes virus or viral infection, which can be activated during times of stress, illness, sleep deprivation, overwork, physical trauma, or autoimmune conditions.
Does Acupuncture Help Bell’s Palsy?
Acupuncture is very helpful in treating Bell’s Palsy. It is most effective when administered immediately after the onset of Bell’s Palsy, but can be helpful any time. Acupuncture is known to reduce inflammation and swelling of the facial nerve and improve the stiffness that often follows an attack. There is substantial evidence supporting the idea that Acupuncture expedites the healing process of facial nerve injuries, helping to mitigate the severity of the condition. During the later stages of an episode, Acupuncture continues to focus on reestablishing communication between facial nerves and facial muscles, addressing any underlying deficiencies, and promoting blood circulation to the face.
Are Chinese Herbs Used to Treat Bell’s Palsy?
Chinese herbs can be a very helpful treatment strategy for Bell’s Palsy. Chinese herbal formulas can be employed as part of the treatment plan, although their usage varies from patient to patient. These herbal formulas are prescribed to enhance the effectiveness of Acupuncture treatment and further support the patient's recovery. Herbal formulas are used to reduce inflammation and address any underlying immunity or deficiency concerns that may have contributed to the onset of Bell's Palsy.
How Long Does It Take to See Results of Acupuncture for Bell’s Palsy?
For the best outcomes, it is recommended to commit to biweekly treatments during the initial few weeks. Significant improvements are often noticeable within a few weeks, although individual cases may vary. Your Acupuncturist will assess your unique situation and provide you with an estimate of the duration of care you may require.
Is Acupuncture for Bell’s Palsy Painful?
Acupuncture involves the use of extremely thin needles and is generally not considered a painful process. Most patients report a feeling of deep relaxation.
If you’re interested in receiving an acupuncture consultation for Bell’s Palsy, or any other condition, please call or text our office at (619) 356-1225.