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Case Studies

chief complaint: Bells Palsy, post-partum

A 38 year old woman complained of pain, numbness, and paralysis on the right side of her face since the birth of her child 2 weeks before. Her medical diagnosis was Bells Palsy. Her pain was moderate, worse on palpation, running along the line of her jaw, behind the ear, and extending to the orbit of the eye and the right temple. She could not close the eye or raise the eyebrow or corner of her mouth on the affected side. This new mother was also exhausted, depressed, and extremely agitated. She slept poorly and was bothered by headaches and constipation. The pregnancy had been difficult, with poorly controlled hypertension requiring bed rest 2 months at home and several days in the hospital. The facial paralysis caused her great distress as she feared she would never be as attractive as she was before.

There is no conventional medical intervention for Bells Palsy.

We treated this patient with 12 acupuncture sessions beginning twice weekly and then at longer intervals. By the 4th session, the droop of her lip improved markedly and pain greatly decreased. Her smile was still a little crooked. She was no longer agitated, but she was still very tired. By the 6th session, she had no pain, her smile continued to improve, and her spirits and energy were lifting. By the 9th session, we could not detect any crookedness in her smile. She still could not squeeze the affected eye completely closed. She looked and felt great. She also reported improvement in sleep and elimination. Her physician monitored her blood pressure and adjusted her medication. She also took Zoloft for about a month, and discontinued when she felt quite well. Treatment cost was about $570 for 9 sessions.

text copyright @2001 by
Meredith St. John
Boston, MA