Bell’s palsy the western medicine view
Bell’s palsy is a paralysis of the facial nerve resulting in inability to control facial muscles on the affected side. It is a peripheral facial paralysis rather than the central nervous system. Several conditions can cause a facial paralysis, However, if no specific cause can be identified (such as brain tumor, stroke, or Lyme disease), the condition is called as Bell’s palsy.
The onset of Bell’s palsy generally come on quickly, often in a matter of hours or overnight, and there may be pain behind/below the ear.
Paralysis or weakness on one side of the face, along with a sagging eyebrow and difficulty closing the eye.
Other possible symptoms include:
- Numbness of the face;
- Difficulty in speaking;
- Loss of taste in the front portion of the tongue;
- Dryness or watering of the affected eye, and a turned out lower eyelid;
- Dribbling when drinking or after cleaning teeth;
- Ear pain, especially below the ear;
- Tearing at the affected eye;
- Intolerance to loud noises on the affected side.
Rarely, new nerve fibres that grow back after paralysis connect to the wrong facial muscle. This can result in lasting damage, and cause one or several of the following:
- Blinking when attempting to smile;
- Involuntary movement of the corners of the mouth when closing the eyes;
- Twitching of facial muscles;
- Facial spasms;
Usually your doctor may prescribe medication (steroids mostly) to reduce inflammation of the facial nerve and other medication for virus.
When should I have treatment for Bell’s palsy?
The severity of bell’s palsy symptoms is depend on how much of the damage of facial nerve. Early treatment can reduce the damage to minimal and help the facial nerve to recover quickly. Usually the facial function is back to normal in the first a few weeks with treatment.
Facial paralysis – Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective
Facial paralysis refers to the loss of voluntary movement in the muscles of the face, resulting in a partial or complete inability to control facial expressions. It can occur due to various underlying causes and may have significant physical and emotional impacts on individuals. The causes including traumatic injuries, bell’s palsy, infections such as Ramsay Hunt syndrome or Lyme disease.
Obviously Traditional Chinese Medicine doesn’t have the diagnosis of “Bell’s Palsy” or “Ramsay Hunt Syndrome” . The symptoms of Bell’s Palsy pertain to TCM’s “Deviated mouth and eyes 口眼歪斜”, “Facial Paralysis面瘫”, or “Wind Stroke 中风 – 中经络 Attacks in meridians”
In traditional Chinese medicine, those symptoms are caused by two factors:
- Pathogenic Wind-Cold attacking on the channels of the face. This can occur when a patient is exposed to pathogenic wind /cold (may related to WM-western medicine’s virus or bacteria infections);
- Weak “Defensive Qi” – WM’s low immune system (possibly due to emotional stress, physically over strain, improper diet, unresolved or chronic illness). As a result, they are more vulnerable to external pathogenic factors.
The external pathogens cause energy blockage in the affected region resulting in swelling of the surrounding tissues. This swelling can then affect the normal function of the face.
As the energy channels – meridians have been blocked, disfunction of the face occurs – the facial muscles becomes lax or paralysed.
TCM pathogenesis of facial paralysis
The lack of movement of face, swelling pain on the face/under earlobe is due to blockage of the meridian (from pathogens);
Numbness and tingling on the face are due to Qi and/or blood deficiency.
TCM facial paralysis management principles
The TCM facial paralysis management principles are:
- Expel wind;
- Invigorate Qi and blood flow;
- Nourish muscle and tendons;
- Strengthen Defensive Qi for prolonged or reoccurred cases
What do acupuncture Traditional Chinese Medicine do?
In China acupuncture, especially electroacupuncture has been widely used in assisting patients who suffering from “facial palsy” or “facial paralysis”. It is one of the most common conditions that people seeking for acupuncture TCM help at the Chinese medicine clinics or hospitals in China.
Traditional Chinese Medicine doesn’t diagnose or treat a “Disease”, but treat “the person”.
- Reduce stress, improve energy;
- Improve facial paralysis/bell’s palsy/Ramsay Hunt syndrome related pain – headache, nerve pain, bruise and pain under earlobe (where the facial nerve exits from skull);
- Soothe facial muscle, improve blood flow, reduce tightness of face;
- Moxibustion improves blood flow on the face and deeply around the facial nerve;
- Electroacupuncture stimulates the affected facial nerve and local muscle movement of face;
- Electroacupuncture helps your acupuncturist understand the severity of your facial nerve damage, so that he/she can give the right judgement of the prognosis (How long and how much for symptoms to recover).
Acupuncture for bell’s palsy related symptoms
Acupuncture, especially electroacupuncture stimulates your facial nerve and moves facial muscles. Acupuncture may be an adjunct treatment with standard medical treatment to improve facial paralysis related to Bell’s Palsy or Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.
How does acupuncture help?
Acupuncture has proved to be able to improve the local blood circulation. Electroacupuncture stimulates facial nerve and local muscle movement.
How many sessions do I need acupuncture for bell’s palsy?
Depends on your individual conditions. Usually twice per week in the acute stage. Once per weeks if over 2 months
Doe researches support acupuncture treatment for bell’s palsy?
Researches of acupuncture are on going.
Some researches showed acupuncture, or electroacupuncture is effective in improving bell’s palsy sequelae. Suggested acupuncture can be an adjunct treatment with standard medical therapy. However due to low quality of those researches (Why most acupuncture researches are low quality?), more randomised controlled studies are needed.
Almond Wellness Centre Coburg and Ringwood clinics
Almond Wellness Centre located in Victoria’s Coburg and Ringwood area, is a multidisciplinary clinic dedicated to promoting wellness. At our clinics, we emphasise the importance of comprehensive healthcare that considers the entirety of an individual. Our approach involves treating each person as a unique individual, taking into account their lifestyle, diet, environment, emotions, and attitude.
If you or someone you care about is experiencing bell’s palsy like symptoms and would like to explore the potential benefits of Chinese medicine acupuncture, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our fully qualified registered acupuncture Chinese medicine practitioners in both Coburg clinic and Ringwood clinic are here to provide information and assistance. We will assess your specific condition, take into account your medical history, and develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Initial assessment/treatment: $160
- Concession card holder & Children (12 yo and under) $140
Following treatment $105
- Concession card holder & Children (12 yo and under) $95
The Efficacy of Electro-Acupuncture Added to Standard Therapy in the Management of Bell Palsy
Bell’s palsy fact sheet
Efficacy of Acupuncture for Bell’s Palsy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
Effect of acupuncture in a patient with 7-year-history of Bell’s palsy.
Correlation between facial nerve functional evaluation and efficacy evaluation of acupuncture treatment for Bell’s palsy. [Article in Chinese] Zhou ZL1, Li CX, Jiang YB, Zuo C, Cai Y, Wang R
Effectiveness of strengthened stimulation during acupuncture for the treatment of Bell palsy: a randomised controlled trial. Xu SB1, Huang B, Zhang CY, Du P, Yuan Q, Bi GJ, Zhang GB, Xie MJ, Luo X, Huang GY, Wang W. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439629
Herbal acupuncture point sticking combined with electroacupuncture therapy in the treatment of Bell’s palsy: a randomised controlled trial. [Article in Chinese] Qi QH1, Ni SS2, Wang YL3, Peng K4, Qu HN2, Yang CH2, Wang J3, Xi W3