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PLoS One. 2015 May 14;10(5):e0121880. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121880. eCollection 2015.

Efficacy of Acupuncture for Bell's Palsy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.

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Department of Neurology, First Affiliated Hospital, Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, Guangxi, China.


Acupuncture has emerged as an alternative therapy for Bell's palsy in both adults and children. However, the use of acupuncture is controversial. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the efficacy of acupuncture for Bell's palsy. We searched PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, irrespective of any language restrictions. Randomized controlled trials comparing acupuncture with other therapies for Bell's palsy in adults or children were included. Fourteen randomized controlled trials involving 1541 individuals were included in this meta-analysis. Significant association was observed in acupuncture with a higher effective response rate for Bell's palsy (relative risk, 1.14; 95% confidence interval, 1.04-1.25; P = 0.005) but there was a heterogeneity among the studies (I2 = 87%). An assessment of the included studies revealed a high risk of bias in methodological quality. An evaluation of the incidence of complications was not available, owing to incomplete data. Acupuncture seems to be an effective therapy for Bell's palsy, but there was insufficient evidence to support the efficacy and safety of acupuncture. However, the results should be interpreted cautiously, because of the poor quality and heterogeneity of the included studies.

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