Bell’s Palsy is a spontaneous paralysis of one side of your face with no known cause with viral and autoimmune causes being suspected (see TCM explanation ). The eyebrow, eye and mouth on the affected side droops down and the eyelid wont close properly, sometimes people may dribble from the side of the mouth. Pain or numbness may be present too.
About 90% of sufferers get better within a year with the remaining 10% being permanently affected. To diagnose Bell’s Palsy other possibilities must be ruled out like stroke (stroke usually affects the arm and leg on affected side too), injury or facial tumour.
The young are more affected than the old with males and females being evenly represented. The facial nerve is thickened where it exits the upper spinal cord and this thickening is suspected to cause the symptoms because the nerve is pinched and not conducting normally.
Corticosteroids are commonly prescribed for Bells Palsy which is claimed to usually work in the majority of cases. For those who the steroids do not work on acupuncture and massage can give relief too.
In Chinese medicine (TCM) Bells Palsy is known as Wind Stroke, as it’s name suggests cold breezes on your neck are seen as a likely cause of Bells Palsy, I have met several sufferers of Bells Palsy who claim that their neck was uncomfortably exposed to cold breezes immediately before the onset of symptoms. medical doctors do not agree with this as a likely cause.
In TCM it is believed that as we age or we are run down, our Wei Chi, which is the most superficial layer of energy in the body weakens. This makes us more sensitive to wind exposure, in the TCM view covering your neck if you feel even slightly cold can prevent Bells Palsy. In the TCM view covering your neck with a scarf or high collar can not only prevent Bells Palsy but also stop it from worsening. In TCM stress is also suspected of playing a part particularly repressed anger.
If your Bells Palsy persists long term Self Massage of your neck can keep the symptoms under control and keeping wind and breezes off your neck is important too.
Periodic acupuncture can keep the symptoms of Bells Palsy under control and facial muscle exercises can help rehabilitate the affected facial muscles.
The most distressing symptoms of Bells Palsy is how it looks and eye dryness because the eye will not close properly. Many sufferers find taping their eyelid shut while they are asleep helps as does the application when needed of liquid tear eye drops.