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  • Writer's picturePhilip Niño Tan-Gatue

Acupuncture for Bell’s Palsy: The Sooner, The Better

Acupuncture for Bell’s Palsy

Previously, I had written about an article about how acupuncture has been shown to be effective for Bell’s Palsy. (Acupuncture for Bell’s Palsy – The De Qi Sensation – link ) The main point of my previous entry was to discuss one major factor in the treatment of Bell’s.  This is the Qi sensation.

Today I would like to share another important factor.


The Clinical Course of Bell’s Palsy

Typically, Bell’s palsy would come on after a viral infection.  The patient would then note a sudden change in the muscles of the face.  Now, this might wax and wane for a few days before it stabilizes.  Acupuncture is actually not recommended until after a few days after onset.

Conventional medicine would usually give steroids to lessen the inflammation leading to nerve compression.  In fact, Bell’s palsy may get well by itself given time.

Sir Charles Bell - the neurologist who documented what we now call Bell's Palsy

Sir Charles Bell – the neurologist who documented what we now call Bell’s Palsy

Acupuncture Timing is Important

In my previous blog entry, we saw how stimulation is important in treatment success.  Timing, however, is also very important.  A general rule I tell my patients is that “the longer the disease is there, the longer it will probably take to get rid of it.”  It’s like a bad habit or vice.

In this article, I would like to discuss two cases of Bell’s Palsy.  These, as far as I know, are my best cases in so far as both resulted in complete recovery and in only two sessions each.  The common denominator? Both of them came for acupuncture within two weeks of onset of symptoms.

Male, 53, with 2 day history of Bell’s Palsy

This case was interesting.  He came to consult the very day after the symptoms started.  Because of the usual cases acupuncture treatment where they recommend needling a few days after onset, I decided to do something different.  I used distal points on the hands and feet with the purpose of clearing Wind and opening the channels, as well as needling points on the face on the opposite side of the affected area.  In this case, the paralysis was on the left, and I needled on the right.

The patient came back after one week with total resolution of symptoms.  He said that the paralysis resolved the next day and never came back.

Female, 51, with 10 day history of Bell’s Palsy

This lady came for consult on the tenth day after onset of symptoms.  I did the usual tactics for two sessions then the patient was lost to follow up.  This was around May, 2016.

Today she came back for shoulder pain and happily told me that she never came back until now because the paralysis resolved after the two sessions.

I hope that these two cases illustrate the importance of “the sooner, the better”.  This applies not just with Bell’s Palsy, but with most cases in general.

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