Bell's Palsy is a condition in which one side of the face becomes suddenly paralyzed. It can be distinguished from a stroke in that it is the entire side of the face, including the forehead, whereas a stroke will either affect the forehead or the cheek but not both. It can cause pain, change (or loss) of taste and smell, and difficulty opening and closing the eye, leading to dry eye and even eye damage.
Acupuncture can be very beneficial in treating Bell's Palsy. It is important to start treatment as soon as possible (preferably within days). Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, cupping and moxibustion may all be beneficial. Without rapid treatment, the risk of permament nerve damage can occur.
While conventional medicine has little understanding and fewer treatment options (steroids), Chinese medicine has a lot to consider. Bell's palsy can occur after exposure to an excessive amount of wind exposure, like sleeping with a fan blowing on you, being outside all weekend at a kids soccer game, or a day of boating. Stress can also be a trigger. Illness, pregnancy and facial trauma can also trigger cases of Bell's palsy.
We always recommend avoiding fans, or at least not having them blow on you. In the cooler months, using a scarf (and hat) while outside in the wind can be helpful. Managing stress, exercise, and breath work can be beneficial.
If you or someone you love is diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, schedule an appointment as soon as possible with us or your local acupuncturist.