What is it?
Acupressure is a treatment used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It’s similar to acupuncture but involves applying pressure rather than needles.
The purpose of acupressure is to stimulate points that correspond to specific organs, emotions, or feelings. In TCM, it’s thought that disease is caused by an imbalance or blocked flow of energy (qi, or “chi”). Most acupressure points are near nerves. Applying pressure at these points may block pain signals.
People use acupressure for many types of pain, especially back pain and menstrual cramps. It is also used for anxiety, constipation, nausea, asthma, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these other uses.
Don’t confuse acupressure with other practices used in TCM, including acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical acustimulation. These are not the same.
Possibly Effective for …
- Back pain. Acupressure, used alone or with other treatments, might reduce back pain and disability better than physical therapy in people with low back pain.
- Tiredness in people with cancer. Acupressure seems to improve tiredness in people with cancer, particularly in males.
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Acupressure seems to reduce pain in adults and adolescents with painful periods. Self-administered acupressure also seems to help.
- Insomnia. Acupressure seems to improves sleep quality in people with insomnia or other sleep issues.
Possibly Ineffective for …
- Osteoarthritis. Acupressure doesn’t seem to improve pain or function in people with knee osteoarthritis.
There is interest in using acupressure for a number of other purposes, but there isn’t enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Acupressure is possibly safe when used during pregnancy and breast-feeding. There are no known safety concerns.
Children: Acupressure is possibly safe when used appropriately in children.
Acupressure can be applied by a practitioner or self-administered. Passive acupressure devices have been developed, such as wrist bands that allow people to apply pressure to the P6 acupressure point, which has been used for the treatment and prevention of nausea and vomiting.
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