On April 15, 2019, the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research published a case study documenting the resolution of Bell’s Palsy in a patient undergoing chiropractic care. WebMD defines this condition by stating, “Bell’s palsy is a condition in which the muscles on one side of your face become weak or paralyzed. It affects only one side of the face at a time, causing it to droop or become stiff on that side.”
This study begins by noting that Bell’s Palsy was named after the Scottish anatomist, Sir Charles Bell, who lived in the late 1700s and early 1800s. This condition accounts for about half of all cases of facial paralysis, affecting between 11.5 and 53.3 per every 100,000 people. This condition can cause difficulty in eating and an inability to close an eyelid, which can lead to serious eye problems. Typical medical treatment is not overly successful and usually involves steroids and antivirals, sometimes in combination with surgical decompression.
In this case, a 68-year-old man went to the chiropractor to see if he could be helped with his drooping and paralysis of the left side of his face. The man stated that his facial paralysis started two weeks earlier, and mentioned that there was no pain with his paralysis. From this problem, the man was unable to close his left eyelid and because of this, he was suffering from dry eye. He also reported that he was having difficulty eating, drinking and speaking. His medical physician prescribed steroids and eye drops, both of which were ineffective. His history revealed that he had been involved in a serious car accident several months earlier.
A chiropractic examination was performed which included an inspection, postural analysis, range of motion, palpation, cranial nerve testing, a heart rate variability study and surface electromyogram (SEMG). In addition, spinal x-rays were taken of the upper portion of the man’s neck. From these procedures, it was determined that the man had subluxations in the uppermost portion of his spine and specific chiropractic adjustments were begun.
Upon returning to the chiropractor’s office after his initial chiropractic adjustment, it was recorded that the man’s face was 80-90% improved in mobility. Two visits later, the study records that the man’s facial paralysis was completely resolved.
In their conclusion the authors wrote, “This case report provides supporting evidence that patient’s presenting with symptoms consistent with Bell’s Palsy may benefit from chiropractic care…” They added, “We encourage continued documentation of chiropractic care of similar patients to inform practice and research.”