New hope for Bell’s palsy

bells-advancedpmrBell’s palsy—in which one side of the face is suddenly paralyzed—is a frightening experience. Symptoms include a loss of feeling in your face, headache, tearing, drooling, hypersensitivity to sound and an inability to close the eye on the affected side.

The condition strikes about 40,000 people every year, and the median age is 40. Luckily, nearly three-quarters of those who experience the condition recover completely.

Here’s how physical therapy and acupuncture can help speed your recovery:

“Initiation” exercises: Since you may have trouble moving your face, your physical therapist (PT) will teach you exercises that will help you do so. You’ll learn how to position your face to make movements easier—and how to make your muscles do what you want them to do.

“Facilitation” exercises: Once you’re able to move your facial muscles, your PT will show you how to increase their activity, strengthen them and engage them for longer periods of time.

• Movement control exercises: When you’re ready, you’ll learn how to refine facial movements for talking, smiling and closing your eye. You’ll also learn how to correct abnormal facial movements.

Relaxation exercises: Your PT will give you exercises to reduce unwanted facial spasms or twitches, which may occur during recovery. You will also learn how to recognize when you’re activating your facial muscles.

Acupuncture: In a recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Bell’s palsy patients who received an intensive form of acupuncture experienced greater improvements than those who received the standard variety. Researchers discovered that wiggling the acupuncture needles—instead of just inserting them and leaving them alone—led to a better chance of full recovery in six months.

Experts don’t know exactly why acupuncture helps, but it’s possible that inserting needles into the face increases blood flow to the area, helping to reduce inflammation and speed recovery.

For more information on how physical therapy and acupuncture can help speed recovery from Bell’s palsy, contact us here.

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