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Health & Balance

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Acupressure Points and Massage Treatment

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What Are Common Acupuncture Points?

There are literally hundreds of acupuncture points on the body -- too many to name. Here are three that are commonly used by acupuncturists and acupressure practitioners:

  • Large intestine 4 (LI 4): This is in the soft, fleshy web between your thumb and forefinger.
  • Liver 3 (LR-3): This is in the soft flesh that sits between your big and 2nd toes. It's an area similar to LI 4.
  • Spleen 6 (SP-6): This is about three finger widths above your inner anklebone. It is a tender area of the lower calf muscle.

Which Health Problems Benefit From Acupressure?

Research into the health benefits of acupressure is in its infancy. Many patient reports support its use for a number of health concerns. More well-designed research is needed, though. Here are a few health problems that appear to improve with acupressure:

Nausea. Several studies support the use of wrist acupressure to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting:

The PC 6 acupressure point is located in the groove between the two large tendons on the inside of the wrist that start at the base of the palm. There are special wristbands that are sold over the counter. These press on similar pressure points and work for some people.

Cancer. In addition to relieving nausea right after chemotherapy, there are individual reports that acupressure also helps reduce stress, improve energy levels, relieve pain, and lessen other symptoms of cancer or its treatments. More research is needed to confirm these reports.

Pain. Some preliminary evidence suggests that acupressure may help with low back pain, postoperative pain, or headache. Pain from other conditions may benefit, as well. To relieve headache, the LI 4 pressure point is sometimes tried.

Arthritis. Some studies suggest that acupressure releases endorphins and promotes anti-inflammatory effects, helping with arthritis.

Depressionand anxiety. More than one study suggests that fatigue and mood may improve from the use of acupressure. Better designed trials are needed to be sure.

Are There Any Precautions With Acupressure?

In general, acupressure is very safe. If you have cancer, arthritis, heart disease, or a chronic condition, be sure to have a discussion with your doctor before trying any therapy that involves moving joints and muscles, such as acupressure. And, make sure your acupressure practitioner is licensed and certified.

Deep tissue work such as acupressure needs to be avoided if any of the following conditions apply:

  • The treatment is in the area of a cancerous tumor or if the cancer has spread to bones
  • You have rheumatoid arthritis, a spinal injury, or a bone disease that could be made worse by physical manipulation
  • You have varicose veins
  • You are pregnant (because certain points can induce contractions)

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD on April 27, 2015
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