Acupuncture has proven to be a very effective treatment for Bell’s Palsy, especially when treatment is begun within the first two weeks of diagnosis. Patients with Bell’s Palsy who receive acupuncture treatment within the first two weeks will experience restored circulation, increased muscle function and reduced numbness as early as after six to eight visits. For some individuals, four treatments within a one-week period have fully restored the patient’s facial muscles and facial nerve function. The sooner the Bell’s Palsy patient undergoes an acupuncture treatment, the sooner and more complete the recovery.
According to the National Institutes of Health, Bell’s Palsy affects approximately 40,000 Americans each year. Bell’s Palsy is the most common disease of the facial nerve; it affects women and men equally, although the incidence is higher in diabetics, pregnant women, and individuals who have the common cold, influenza, or other upper respiratory illnesses. Bell’s Palsy is a sudden form of facial paralysis resulting from damage to the VII (facial) cranial nerve. Cranial nerve VII controls most facial muscles connected with the eye, mouth and jaw, and also controls the function of certain salivary glands and tear glands.
The onset of Bell’s palsy is typically sudden, with maximum facial weakness developing within the first 48 hours. Although it usually occurs on only one side of the face, about 1% of cases involve complete facial paralysis. Symptoms include a sudden weakness or paralysis on one side of the face, causing it to droop, with decreased ability to close the eye, difficulty moving facial muscles on one side of the face, tingling around the lip area, drooling from one side of the mouth, headache, and generalized numbness on the affected side of the face. Excess or decrease in tearing and drooling may also occur. In some instances, there may be pain behind the ear or jaw, ringing in the ear(s), increased hypersensitivity to sound, and loss of ability to taste. Because of the muscle weakness and possible numbness, eating and drinking can be very difficult. The degree of paralysis is dependent on the amount of irritation or compression of the facial nerve. Continue reading