Bell's palsy, or facial paralysis, is a sudden paralysis of one side of the face. The cause is unknown, but inflammation of the nerve that controls the muscles of the face ( forehead, cheeks, lips, mouth, chin) is suspected and the data suggests that a viral infection is the cause. It is not a very common disease ( the incidence is less than 1%), but in August 2021, Health Canada added Bell's palsy to the list of side effects from Covid-19 vaccines.* In the majority of the cases, the symptoms disappear within a few months; however, in about 30% of people affected by Bell's palsy, symptoms last longer than 6 months.
The paralysis can affect some or all of the facial muscles. The affected muscles can therefore no longer contract, which means that the smile and facial expressions are asymmetrical, and it can be difficult to eat and drink. Acupuncture is an excellent therapy for treating disorders related to nerves and muscles.
The intensity of Bell's palsy symptoms can vary, from loss of muscle tone to complete muscle paralysis. In all cases, there is a decrease or absence of movements on the affected side of the face which lead to:
inability to close the eye completely;
discomfort when chewing;
difficulty or inability to completely close the mouth;
alteration of facial expressions ( frowning, smiling, raising eyebrows, puffing out cheeks, etc. ).
Not only these symptoms can be very annoying for carrying on some daily activities, such as eating, drinking, talking, even sleeping (the eye that does not close must be protected to avoid complications), but they can also affect social and professional life since it is not a condition that can be hidden from the public.
WHAT TO DO?
The first thing to do is to quickly consult your doctor to make sure there are no serious problems and to get rapid treatment if need be. It is important to make sure that the paralysis is not caused by a serious problem that requires immediate attention.
Treatment options in Western medicine are limited and most treatments, such as the administration of steroids and antivirals, are aimed at the acute phase of the disease. However, acupuncture is a very effective and safe treatment option for facial paralysis, and it does not interfere with other treatment approaches. It can only speed up your recovery.
In several studies, acupuncture has been shown to be effective not only in speeding up the remission of Bell's palsy, but also in treating cases where certain symptoms are slow to disappear.*
HOW DOES AN ACUPUNCTURE SESSION FOR BELL'S PALSY WORK?
First, we will do an overall assessment of your state of health. We will then see which branches of the facial nerve are affected and to what degree you are unable to contract certain facial muscles. Finally, we will establish a specific treatment plan. The treatment approach we use targets the areas of the face that are most affected, combining traditional Chinese medicine theories with modern anatomical knowledge.
By combining the precise location of acupuncture needles with mild electrical stimulation, we can optimize treatment effects and promote faster recovery. We also work to regulate the immune system and the autonomic nervous system, two elements that play an important role in recovery.
Schedule an appointment now for a rapid recovery, or contact us to find out more about what acupuncture can do for facial paralysis.
Liang F et al. A multicentral randomized control study on clinical acupuncture treatment of Bell’s palsy. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. March 2006.
Zhang R et al. Compare the efficacy of acupuncture with drugs in the treatment of Bell’s palsy: A systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs. PMC. May 2019.