Bell’s Palsy is a disorder of the facial nerve (cranial nerve VII) which causes paralysis on one side of the face. The facial nerve controls muscle function from the top of the eye down to the chin and thus Bell’s palsy will cause the whole side of the face to droop and appear expressionless. Lacrimation and salivation can be affected. It typically comes on suddenly, lasts for a few weeks and gradually goes away.
The cause of Bell’s palsy is unknown, but the herpes virus is possibly involved. Chinese medicine views this condition as a kind of “external Wind invasion” and indeed many Bell’s palsy patients associate onset of symptoms with exposure to wind and cold. Although the condition is usually self- limiting there are some cases in which symptoms persist for longer than two weeks. Acupuncture is a highly effective treatment at any stage of Bell’s palsy but is especially indicated in persistent cases. In these unusual cases acupuncture plays a major role in increasing muscle control and tone dramatically.