We’ve talked about how to educate your patients about Bell’s Palsy. Now, if you’ve educated everyone well, your patients and their friends should know when to call you.
Next, we talked about how to treat a Bell’s Palsy patient to get excellent results.
When I finished up the last blog, I felt like something was missing. It’s been bothering me ever since.
How many times have we done an awesome job treating a patient, and then we never see or hear from them again?
Somehow, this Bell’s Palsy patient fell through the cracks. The fact that “I never saw her again” tells me that I failed to teach her something important.
Bell’s Palsy is preventable.
Since writing this Bell’s Palsy series, I’ve received emails and talked to a number of people who have had recurring bouts of Bell’s Palsy. From a Western perspective, recurring Bell’s Palsy is just the luck of the draw. Some get it and some don’t. If you get it, you’re one of the unlucky ones.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective–there are preventative lifestyle choices the patient can make to avoid the “odds” of getting Bell’s Palsy.
In Bell’s Palsy–Part 1 we talked about the nature of INTERNAL wind and how it manifests in the body according to TCM.
I failed to mention how EXTERNAL wind can also attack the body. According to TCM, external wind is either natural or artificial. Natural wind is easy to understand. If you can see the trees and bushes moving, there is wind. Artificial “wind” is a little different. This wind comes from cold/hot air generated from an air conditioning or heating vent, riding in a vehicle with the window open, and even riding on a motorcycle or in the back of a pick-up truck without proper covering.
The latter type of “wind” enters externally through the pores of the skin causing similar imbalances as internal wind. Here’s the difference.
Internal wind is generated within and manifests internally first–seizures, convulsions, stroke, etc.
External wind enters through the pores of the skin and starts out more on a superficial level. When someone gets a cold or the flu–we call this an external attack of Wind/Cold or Wind/Heat. This type of wind enters the body through open orifices such as the mouth, nose, eyes, etc. It can also enter through any exposed area of skin and seems to be most susceptible near the neck, upper back and shoulders. The Chinese figured out early on that airborne illness can be transferred from person to person through the air via external “wind.”
Wind from Bell’s Palsy can be either internal or external in nature. The two main TCM diagnoses for Bell’s Palsy are:
- Liver Qi Stagnation leading to internal heat and wind.
- External attack of wind resulting in obstruction in the channels affecting the face.
The good news: Most wind is preventable.
How to PREVENT Bell’s Palsy:
#1: Teach your patients the value of wearing a scarf.
Have you ever notice how people from Eastern cultures wear scarves? It’s not just a fashion statement!
- Wearing a scarf protects the most susceptible wind-attacked areas from the elements. It doesn’t have to be a big bulky scarf. Even thin scarves will protect your neck and shoulders. Keep one in your car for sudden changes in weather. Always have a scarf in your bag when you get on an airplane.
- Avoid sitting near an air conditioning vent. (Use a scarf if you can’t avoid it!)
- Don’t sleep with a fan blowing on you.
- Avoid sitting or sleeping in cold drafty areas.
- Never ride in the back of a pick-up truck or on a motorcycle without protecting your neck.
- When you get out of a hot tub, swimming pool or even a shower–cover up immediately. When your pores are open you are even more susceptible to external wind.
#2: Monthly wellness AcuGraph analysis and wellness treatment.
FACT: None of my wellness patients have ever come in with a Bell’s Palsy attack. Is that just the luck of the draw? I don’t think so!
Wellness patients come in at least once a month for a balancing treatment. AcuGraph analysis shows how the patient is progressing from treatment to treatment. It allows the practitioner to take care of potential problems before they turn into something bigger. Comparing graphs on a monthly basis allows the practitioner to see when something has shifted for the patient.
Take a look at the graphs above. I treat this patient on a monthly basis. For the most part, she does pretty well. Look at Month 3. She had a bad month. Notice the SI, TE and LI channels. They are all excess. She was holding onto a lot of shoulder tension. I don’t see excess in the Liver channel (it actually shows as deficient). Let’s take a look at those excess shoulder channels. Shoulder tension is one of the first steps to a build up of stagnation and heat in the body. Western medicine calls this inflammation. You can tell that stress is sneaking in!
I’ve taught my patients not to panic when looking at what they consider a “bad graph.” Here’s my typical response.
“It looks like you are experiencing “LIFE” and that’s okay. I’m glad you’re here to put your body back into balance. Relax and enjoy your treatment. Everything will be flowing smoothly when we are done.”
The likelihood of developing Liver Qi Stagnation to the point of further evolving into heat and internal wind are not likely if the patient is receiving regular acupuncture.
Patients who have a tendency toward Liver Qi Stagnation should also be taught lifestyle habits to be incorporated at home to keep Liver Qi moving so stagnation and heat do not evolve.
- Daily exercise.
- Don’t work too long in front of a computer without getting up to move qi. I suggest patients take a walk around the office every 2 hours. My favorite way to move qi while I’m at work is to use a mini trampoline two or three times per day.
- Find a way to release stagnant emotion–such as journal writing, talking to a friend or learning good communication skills through a counselor.
It’s nice when preventative medicine is enjoyable! My wellness treatments typically consist of AcuGraph, acupuncture and a little bit of back and shoulder massage.
And for those who are trying to avoid Bell’s Palsy, who doesn’t’ enjoy a new scarf (or two)? Right?!
Maybe I’ll send this article to my long-lost Bell’s Palsy patient so I don’t get that panic call later.
Have a great day!
Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.
Acupuncture Research Analyst