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Origin And History
Acupressure, unlike acupuncture, does not make the use of needles. Instead, it focuses on applying pressures at certain specified body parts so as to restore health and life balance. Acupressure mostly involves the use of palms, fingers, elbows or even certain devices to apply the required pressure. However in the recent times, massage, meditation and stretching have also been included in this form of the therapy.
Acupressure has been known to originate in China. It is an ancient form of Chinese medicine theory that aims to balance the health-energy aspect of life (chi in Chinese).
Benefits Of Acupressure
Acupressure has been found to be effective in a number of conditions; however, due to the lack of appropriate evidence to support its efficacy, acupressure has not been yet commercialized as a ‘standard’ therapy.
Some of the most apparent benefits with acupressure are as follow:
- Relaxes mind and raises the spirit towards emotional stability
- Effective in acute ankle sprains in adults
- Helps reduces post-operative pain
- Effective in preventing nausea and vomiting
- Effective non-invasive method in the cardiovascular system
- Provides relief from motion sickness and headache
- Helps reduce pain and surgery aftermath in spinal injuries
- Effective in chemotherapy
- Reduces complications during and after pregnancy
Various studies have been conducted to evaluate the efficacy of acupressure in conditions such as nausea, vomiting, back pain, trauma, dementia and headaches. With only few exceptions, many studies have found acupressure to be quite effective in either reducing the symptoms or completely treating the ailment. Results have been published for successful administration of acupressure in nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, dementia and insomnia.
How Is Acupressure Done?
Acupressure does not involve needles. It makes use of keeping pressure with a hand at specific points so as to either induce or stimulate the ‘meridians’. Rarely, it also involves meditation, stretching and massaging. The simplest procedure lasts for not more than 1 hour. The practitioner applies the pressure on the patient’s body parts with the sole aim to enhance the inner energy core and raise the emotional spirit.
While acupressure has been found to be useful in certain situations, other scholars found the effectiveness of treatment hard to believe. More than the acupressure, they attribute factors like internal stimulation, improved circulation, and relieved muscles might contribute toward the pain relieving tendency.
Who Requires Acupressure?
With almost little to nil side-effects, people of any age can use acupressure. It’s not specifically applied to treat and reduce symptoms associated with ailments, but also used to improve circulation, stretching, emotional stability and reducing stiffness. According to a report by World Health Organization (WHO), more than 32 conditions were found to be responsive toward acupressure. Surprisingly, the conditions were quite similar to the ones for acupuncture. People of any age, with mild conditions like common cold, joint stiffness, headache, constipation, defecation problem, gums, pain in calves and thighs, dizziness, fatigue, weight loss, soreness, cramps and allergies, can adequately benefit from acupressure. However, in acute conditions such as chest pain, cancer, cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, paralysis, pleurisy, rhinitis and scoliosis, the effectiveness varies and results do not correspond to any authentic evidence till date.
Precautions, Contraindications And Interactions
Following precautions should be exercised before applying acupressure.
- The therapy should be avoided in cancer patients
- However effective, it is not recommended to patients with arthritis as it can worsen the condition on account of manual evaluation
- Strictly not recommended to pregnant women
- Care should be taken in case of spinal injury
- Should be avoided in patients with osteoporosis
- Varicose veins
- Lee E. J, Frazier SK. The Efficacy of Acupressure for Symptom Management: A Systematic Review. J Pain SympManag. 2011;42(4):589–603. PMID: 21531533
- Ming JL. The efficiency of acupressure to prevent nausea and vomiting in post-operative patients. J AdvNurs.2013;39(4):343–51. PMC3843480
- Felhendler D, Lisander B. Effects of non-invasive stimulation of acupoints on the cardiovascular system. Complementary Therapiesin Medicine. 1999;7:231–4. PMID: 10709307
- Austin DR, Neufeld A, Anderson K. Research Shows Acupressure Reduces Chronic Neck Pain. Massage Today. 2012;12(9).
- Yang MH, Wu SC, Lin JG, et al. The efficacy of acupressure for decreasing agitated behavior in dementia: a pilot study. J ClinNurs. 2007;16(2):308–10. PMID: 17239066
- Chen HM, Wang HH, Chiu MH. Effects of acupressure on menstrual distress and low back pain in dysmenorrheic young adult women: An experimental study. Pain ManagNurs. 2014. pii: S1524-9042(14)00103-9. doi:10.1016/j.pmn.2014.06.002. PMID: 25175554