Bell’s palsy is the condition of sudden drooping, weakness, numbness, and possible paralysis of one side of the face. There are varying degrees of symptoms. Some people will experience slight muscle weakness and numbness, while others will have total paralysis of one side of the face, facial pain, and headaches. Some also have a reduction in taste, have trouble holding food in their mouth, and difficulty closing their eye on the affected side. In some cases, the tear ducts stop functioning properly and are unable to produce tears. When the eye is not properly moisturized, the outer protective layer can harden and lead to permanent vision damage.
For most people, Bell’s palsy is lasts around two weeks, but severe cases can result in permanent facial damage. Anyone can get Bell’s palsy. It is most common after an illness, during pregnancy, or after childbirth. Sometimes Bell’s palsy is a secondary disease to more serious conditions. It is always important to seek care from your primary health provider to rule out serious underlying conditions that may have caused Bell’s palsy.
Viruses that cause cold sores, shingles, and respiratory illnesses have been linked to Bell’s palsy; however, the exact cause of Bell’s palsy is unknown. Western medical science utilizes electromyography (EMG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the state of the cranial nerves in patients with Bell’s palsy. In most cases, imaging shows inflammation of cranial nerve seven—the facial nerve. This nerve controls the muscles of facial expression, and the conveyance of part of the taste sensation.
A common recommendation for treatment of Bell’s palsy is to wait it out. Don’t unknowingly wait with numbness and pain – come get acupuncture!
In my experience, the sooner you receive treatment for Bell’s palsy the better. Some muscles take as little as two weeks to begin to atrophy. This makes it harder to regain strength and feeling in the face. When people come in as soon as possible, they give their muscles relief from inflammation and speed up the recovery of the cranial nerves.
The treatment plan can vary from four to ten acupuncture treatments. At the beginning of each appointment, I will ask you to perform basic movements like smiling, blinking, raising the eyebrows and frowning to determine the severity and locations of the symptoms. This also gives us a baseline for your progress. I have great success with treating Bell’s palsy with acupuncture and additional traditional Chinese therapies. Depending on the person, I will use a combination of acupuncture, electric acupuncture, gua sha, and moxibustion.
Acupuncture decreases inflammation and increases nerve response. It also relieves pain and improves circulation. I use needles made specifically for the face to increase comfort. Most people find the acupuncture soothing and it immediately alleviates their pain.
Electric acupuncture involves small alligator clamps placed onto the needles creating a simple electron current. This amplifies the acupuncture effect and reaches a greater area on the face. Electric acupuncture also helps restore normal nerve function.
Gua sha is the scraping of the skin on specific acupuncture channels to help increase circulation to the area. I use tools made to achieve the correct amount of pressure to the face. Facial gua sha is very relaxing and also has the added benefit of smoothing the skin.
I use moxibustion to help assist the acupuncture in reducing inflammation in the acupuncture channels of the face. Moxibustion is the burning of the herb mugwort on or near the skin. When this is done on specific acupuncture points, the inflammation will reduce and the circulation will improve in the face.
Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine are a safe and effective way to treat Bell’s palsy. There are few to no side effects and both treatments provide lasting results. They are also extremely beneficial in preventative medicine and overall health.
I always offer free consultations. Come in today if you have been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy and see what acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine can do for you.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology and a Master’s of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. I offer a safe option for your healthcare that is free of side effects. I have found treating patients to be incredibly rewarding. Non-invasive options should be everyone’s first route of care. I enjoy challenging cases. Give me a chance to help you. Consultations are always complimentary!