Objective: Investigate the optimum time of acupuncture treatment in peripheral facial paralysis in order to provide evidence for clinical treatment.
Methods: CNKI, Wanfang, PubMed, Cochrane Library, and EMBASE databases were systematically searched from the inception dates to February 20, 2020. Studies limited to participants with acute peripheral facial paralysis treated with acupuncture and patients without information of the stage were excluded. The primary outcomes were effective rate and cure rate (based on facial nerve function scores). This meta-analysis is registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42020169870.
Results: 15 randomized controlled trials that enrolled 2847 participants met the selection criteria. There was no significant differences in the effective rate (RR, 1.22; 95% CI, 0.70-2.11) when comparing acupuncture to prednisone therapy in acute facial paralysis. Acupuncture treatment in the acute stage increased both the effective rate (RR, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.00-1.07) and the cure rate (RR, 1.34; 95% CI, 1.14-1.58) compared to that in the nonacute stage.
Conclusions: In this meta-analysis, acupuncture showed a better effect in the acute stage than the nonacute stage for participants with peripheral facial paralysis. There was no statistical difference in the effective rate no matter the choice of acupuncture or prednisone therapies in the acute stage. These findings encourage early acupuncture treatment in peripheral facial paralysis.