Bell’s Palsy is an acute condition characterized by nerve paralysis on one side of the face. The facial nerve (which is the seventh cranial nerve) becomes inflamed and that inflammation interferes with the conduction of nerve signals, resulting in weakness of the facial muscles.
Symptoms include difficulty or an inability to close the eye, pain in the jaw or behind the ear, drooping of the eye, or mouth, and difficulty with speech, eating, or drinking. Other symptoms can include headache, ringing in the ears, dizziness, hypersensitivity to sound, and decreased sense of taste.
Bell’s Palsy has a sudden onset, and most people recover normally within 3-4 weeks. However, full restoration of the facial muscles can take up to 9 months for some patients and 30% of patients can have lifelong complications of facial weakness or persistent tearing of the eyes.
Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for Bell’s Palsy.
Our clinic offers both specialized facial treatments to help reduce inflammation of the facial nerve, and strengthen the muscles in the face, along with scalp acupuncture to further stimulate the nervous system.
We begin with scalp acupuncture while the patient goes through a series of facial exercises to help reprogram the neurological damage to the facial muscles. The exercises help to isolate specific muscles, activate and strengthen them, and improve flexibility. During the healing process, the nerves often get “cross-wired” so we integrate the acupuncture and the exercises to help establish coordination and rebuild symmetry of the facial muscles.
We then administer acupuncture needles in face, to help strengthen the muscles and improve blood flow. Typically needles are placed in the areas of weakness or pain; above or below the eye, around the nose, lip or jaw, around the ear, and forehead.