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How Effective is Acupressure for Back Pain?

By Sandra Koehler
Updated May 17, 2024
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Acupressure is a hands-on form of therapy based on the theories of acupuncture. Whereas acupuncture utilizes the insertion of needles, acupressure uses pressure techniques to specific areas of the body. This form of therapy is commonly utilized to treat various pain and dysfunction issues, especially back pain.

Acupressure for back pain is an alternative medicine procedure is based on the theory that all body functions are regulated by a supernatural force called qi or chi. When there is impairment in the flow of qi, considered the body’s life flow, dysfunction occurs. This can be in the form of pain and overall impairment in movements whether specific or general. By realigning or normalizing this flow the body can return to maximum functioning.

An abnormal qi flow can occur through injuries, health conditions or prolonged stress. These health impairments often lead to pain. It may impair the ability to manage stress or fight off infections by affecting the body’s immune system. Dysfunction can also lead to problems with the circulation of blood. This can cause problems with things such as waste removal and the transportation of oxygen throughout the body.

The manual technique of acupressure for back pain can be an effective tool to help manage and reverse chronic issues impeding everyday activities. When using acupressure for back pain, the body must be assessed as a whole. This means the pain experienced in the back could be caused by an interruption of the flow of qi in a different area called "acupoints."

Acupoints or acupressure points are specific spots located within the muscles which hold onto tension. This tension manifests as points of spasms or abnormal muscle tightening. These points can be located anywhere in the body but still cause specific pain issues such as back pain.

By releasing these points, the flow of qi is restored along with the normal muscle length and tension. This is accomplished by applying direct pressure or acupressure into these tightened knots. The steady direct pressure forces the knots into relaxation. Once a loosening of the tightness is felt, more pressure can then be applied until the knot virtually melts away.

Since chronic pain changes the way the body deals with the associated tightness, acupressure for back pain may require several sessions for full release of the tense areas. Acupressure can be uncomfortable and may cause some tenderness or bruising to the area which may increase inflammation or swelling to the area. Multiple sessions allows the body to heal and get used to the sensation of the new, more normal muscle length without increasing spasms.

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