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Will acupuncture help Bells Palsy?

Q:  Its my 6th day since I have been diagnosed with Bells palsy. I am 31 years old.  The last 2 days my affected side is worse than in the beginning. I am taking prednisolone and acyclovir tablets.  Howerver the doctor says  I don't need anything else like acupuncture or physiotherapy.  I strongly believe I do for to help me get better.  Please advise me when and where could I start my acupuncture treatment. Would I need to wait until the course of treatment is finished?

A:From a Chinese medicine perspective, if you plan to have acupuncture treatment, the sooner the better. There is a certain amount of research evidence to support the use of acupuncture, and although it falls a long way short of being conclusive, as our factsheet shows

there is no doubt that the most encouraging research shows that a combination of medication and acupuncture seems to be the most effective treatment. We always say that out work is complementary to, not alternative to, conventional medicine, and there are few problems associated with experiencing both forms of treatment at the same time. There are some occasions when the effects of the drugs themselves can be quite considerable, but an experienced practitioner will factor this into their assessment of the situation and adjust their treatment accordingly.

Bell's Palsy is a great deal more common in China where a huge proportion of the population still work in the fields, and the Chinese were very clear that it was exposure to the wind or to a sudden burst of wind bringing a different air temperature, especially hot to cold, which could cause this often distressing condition. In modern times, before air conditioning became more common it was not unusual to see two or three patients a year who managed to bring it on by motorway driving on hot days with a window open on the driver's side. However, the increasing amount of stress in modern life means that it is mow possible for mental and emotional factors to come into play.

We would usually see someone possibly twice a week to deal with the problem before it became too entrenched, but timetable and cost might make this problematic. We would also keep an eye on progress because Bell's either responds well and quickly, or it can take a great deal of time to achieve little more than the medication alone. You need to have some very clear and measurable outcomes to see if there is progress, and some clear review periods agreed to make sure that continuing treatment is worthwhile.

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