What is Bell’s palsy?
The facial nerve paralysis, also known as Bell’s palsy is due to inflammation of the facial nerve within its bone channel, which causes the compression of the nerve and its malfunctioning. The exact reasons for the nerve damage are yet unknown, but it may be associated with viral infection (such as herpes simplex infection or herpes zoster virus reactivation) or with infection of the ears, spreading towards the facial nerve. However, Bell’s palsy is not due to stroke, which must be excluded before putting the diagnosis Bell’s palsy. The main symptom of the condition is the sudden drop and weakness of one side of the face that causes asymmetry and is typically demonstrated by:
1. Impossibility to close your eye or look upwards
2. Impossibility to pull out your tongue, whistle or smile
4. Either dryness in the eye or excessive tearing
5. Hypersensitivity to sounds and/or pain behind the ear
The treatment of Bell’s palsy includes corticosteroids, physiotherapy and eventually surgical intervention in order to decompress the nerve.
How can acupuncture help?
A number of clinical researches have demonstrated the beneficial role of acupuncture in patients attained from Bell’s palsy. This is due to the fact that:
1. Acupuncture reduces inflammation by stimulating the release of immunological factors, which direct the healing processes within the organism
- Acupuncture improves the local microcirculation by causing secretion of endorphins, cytokines, nitric oxide, which cause blood vessels dilatation. In that way, while waste products are being eliminated faster, anti-inflammatory factors are being delivered faster.
- The substances listed above are also implemented in the mechanisms of pain. In addition the vasodilatation relieves the tension of the nerve endings situated within the blood vessels walls. That is why acupuncture could also alleviate eventual pain.
- Acupuncture also stimulates the nerve and the facial muscles and therefore their speed of recovery
Acupuncture may be applied either alone or in combination with drug therapy.
Treatment of Bell’s palsy must not be delayed as up to 30% of the patients are left with permanent facial weakness or other complications such as facial contracture or reduced sense. While acupuncture has been used for thousands of years as an alternative medicine method, its advantages have now been proven on scientific level.
British Acupuncture Council. Bells Palsy Link