Acupuncture is effective for Bell’s palsy to help patients’ recovery.

Bell's palsy (BP) is a common condition that affects the peripheral facial nerve, resulting in unilateral weakness or paralysis of the face. It is a type of cranial mononeuropathy and accounts for 70% of peripheral facial palsies. Despite its prevalence, the cause of BP is not fully understood.

Acupuncture has been widely used to treat neuropathy, and previous studies have suggested that it can improve facial motor symptoms, reduce pain around the ear, and speed up recovery. In a recent study, researchers investigated the effect of acupuncture on the acute stage of BP.

The study enrolled a total of 345 patients who had been newly diagnosed with BP and underwent acupuncture treatment between August 2016 and December 2021. Patients were followed until they had fully recovered. If recovery was incomplete within 6 weeks, the next follow-up was at 12 and 24 weeks. The facial function was assessed at all visits.

The results of the study showed that patients who received acupuncture within 7 days of diagnosis had a significantly shorter time to complete recovery than those who were treated after 7 days. Moreover, they had significantly higher recovery rates at 12 weeks. This suggests that early and appropriate acupuncture therapy can improve the outcome of patients with BP and shorten the time to recovery.

Inflammation and edema of the facial nerve are believed to be part of the pathogenesis in patients with BP. The study suggested that the effect of acupuncture may be related to its anti-inflammatory effect. Therefore, acupuncture may be beneficial in reducing inflammation and promoting healing in patients with BP.

In summary, BP is a common condition that can cause facial weakness or paralysis due to dysfunction of the peripheral facial nerve. Acupuncture has been found to be effective in improving facial motor symptoms, reducing pain, and accelerating recovery in patients with BP. The study highlighted the importance of early and appropriate acupuncture therapy for better outcomes and shorter recovery time. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory effect of acupuncture may play a role in its therapeutic effect.

Lian-Sheng Yang et al Front Neurol. 2022; 13: 943453.

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