Acupuncture for the sequelae of Bell's palsy: a randomized controlled trial

Trials. 2015 Jun 3:16:246. doi: 10.1186/s13063-015-0777-z.


Background: Incomplete recovery from facial palsy results in social and physical disabilities, and the medical options for the sequelae of Bell's palsy are limited. Acupuncture is widely used for Bell's palsy patients in East Asia, but its efficacy is unclear.

Methods: We performed a randomized controlled trial including participants with the sequelae of Bell's palsy with the following two parallel arms: an acupuncture group (n = 26) and a waiting list group (n = 13). The acupuncture group received acupuncture treatments for 8 weeks, whereas the waiting list group did not receive acupuncture treatments during the 8-week period after randomization. The primary outcome measure was change in the Facial Disability Index (FDI) social and well-being subscale at week 8. We also analyzed changes in the FDI physical function subscale, the House-Brackmann score, the Sunnybrook Facial Nerve Grading system, lip mobility and stiffness at 5 and 8 weeks after randomization. An intention-to-treat analysis was applied.

Results: The acupuncture group exhibited greater improvements in the FDI social score (mean difference, 23.54; 95% confidence interval, 12.99 to 34.08) and better results on the FDI physical function subscale (mean difference, 21.54; 95% confidence interval, 7.62 to 35.46), Sunnybrook Facial Nerve Grading score (mean difference, 14.77; 95% confidence interval, 5.05 to 24.49), and stiffness scale (mean difference, -1.58; 95% confidence interval,-2.26 to -0.89) compared with the waiting list group after 8 weeks. No severe adverse event occurred in either group.

Conclusion: Compared with the waiting list group, acupuncture had better therapeutic effects on the social and physical aspects of sequelae of Bell's palsy.

Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN43104115.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bell Palsy / physiopathology
  • Bell Palsy / therapy*
  • Facial Nerve / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Sample Size

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN43104115