Benefits and uses of acupressure

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Acupressure massage is often referred to as needleless acupuncture . Instead of needles, acupressure involves applying pressure manually (usually with your fingertips) to specific points on your body.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine , invisible energy pathways called meridians flow within the body. At least 14 meridians are believed to connect our organs to other parts of the body. Acupuncture and acupressure points are located along these meridians.

If the flow of energy (also called "qi" or " qi ") is blocked at any point on the meridian, it is believed to cause various symptoms and health conditions anywhere on the meridian. This is why a doctor can apply pressure to an acupressure point on the foot to relieve headaches.

There is no consensus on how acupressure might work. Some speculate that pressure can help release natural pain-relieving chemicals called endorphins in the body. Another theory is that pressure can affect the autonomic nervous system in some way.

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Applications

Most people try acupressure for the first time to treat symptoms such as:

  • Cancer-related fatigue and other forms of fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle pain and tension
  • Nausea or vomiting after surgery or chemotherapy.
  • Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and morning sickness.
  • Stress management

Advantage

Currently, there are few studies examining the effectiveness of acupressure. However, some evidence suggests that wrist acupressure can help relieve pain after a sports injury.

For example, in a 2017 study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine , researchers examined the effects of three minutes of acupressure, three minutes of sham acupressure, or no acupressure on athletes who suffered a sports injury on the same day.

The study concluded that acupressure is effective in reducing pain intensity compared to mimicking acupressure or no acupressure. The concern has not changed.

Acupressure can help relieve nausea and vomiting in people with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, according to a report published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians .

The researchers analyzed the results of three previously published studies and found that acupressure (using finger pressure or an acupressure bracelet) reduced nausea, vomiting, and vomiting.

In a report published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews , scientists analyzed 22 previously published clinical trials of acupuncture or acupressure for induction of labor and found no clear benefit in reducing cesarean section rates.

Typical acupressure session

Acupressure is often performed by an acupuncturist while the person receiving the acupressure is sitting or lying on a massage table.

Acupressure can also be used alone. While it is best to consult an acupuncturist for proper instructions, acupressure is usually performed using the thumb, finger, or joint to apply gentle but strong pressure to the point. You can also use the tip of a ballpoint pen.

The pressure is often increased for about 30 seconds, held continuously for 30 seconds to two minutes, and then gradually reduced over 30 seconds. Usually this is repeated three to five times.

For example, to find the "P6" point, which is used primarily to treat nausea and vomiting, raise the palm of your hand. Place your thumb in the center of the wrist crease (where the hand meets the wrist), then spread it two fingers apart toward the elbow. The point is between the two great tendons.

Side effects and safety

Acupressure should never be painful. If you are in pain, tell your therapist right away. After an acupressure session, some people may feel pain or bruising at the acupressure points. You may also feel temporary dizziness.

Press lightly on fragile or sensitive areas like your face.

If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor before trying acupressure. Acupressure is generally not performed on the abdomen or specific points on the leg or lower back during pregnancy.

Acupressure should not be performed on open wounds, bruises, varicose veins, or any area that is bruised or swollen.

Before trying acupressure, check with your doctor if you have:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Recent fracture or injury
  • Cancer
  • Slight bruising
  • Blood clotting disorder
  • Heart disease
  • Uncontrolled blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Prescription blood thinners or antiplatelet agents, such as Coumadin (warfarin)
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