Neck Pain is a challenging condition to treat, due to the multitude of possible causes. Trauma, muscle strain and poor posture are just as likely to cause neck pain as tumors, degenerative diseases and abnormalities that exist in the bones and/or joints. Therefore, treatment that works quickly and effectively on neck pain to bring relief to the pain sufferer is not a guarantee.
For those suffering from neck pain, it may be a challenge to find an over-the-counter medication that helps. Even prescribed medications from a doctor can not put a dent in the pain or can be a case where a tolerance is developed. Pain sufferers may find temporary relief or partial relief but nothing long-term and a full resolution of the pain.
If there are other options that have been tried and not found effective, it is time to pursue other means of pain relief. This is where the concept of acupressure comes in, and this has a great potential to help these individuals find a longer-lasting relief.
Prior to jumping into the world of acupressure, however, it is a very logical approach to prepare yourself to receive acupressure, even if you will be doing it yourself. It is important to have an open mind when attempting a treatment method such as acupressure. This involves an open mind and a belief in some of the situations like energy movement throughout the body and its impact on pain.
Acupressure is an accepted form of healing from ancient times, traceable back to the people of ancient Asia, that focuses on stimulating key points on the body to help relieve pain and discomfort. Practitioners believed that pain and discomfort are precursors to illness and disease. The use of acupressure to handle these issues stops the growth and development of the disease.
The main points that become important in acupressure are acupoints, which are located along meridians in the body. These meridians are lines that connect all parts of the body via that line. Those lines carry energy and therefore are key to refocusing that energy or removing believed blockages that cause the pain and discomfort. There are many similar practices in different cultures, where pressure on the hands and feet are used to combat pain or illness like the process of acupressure and focus on specific points on these accepted lines in order to relieve pain in specific areas of the body or specific ailments.
Reflexology is similar to acupressure. Meanwhile, acupuncture uses the same principles and meridians, although this practice utilizes needles instead of simply applying pressure.
Prepare for Acupressure
1- Educate Yourself – Since acupressure has been used for years in China and Asia, there are already a lot of books and articles on the methods used and what to expect when choosing this approach to pain relief. Read up on the history of acupressure, and be prepared for what is to come.
2- Have Reasonable Expectations – This type of healing can not help with incurable diseases or cancer. With that in mind, it can be beneficial for those who have chronic pain that is related to these illnesses. As long as you do not expect miracles, this treatment can still be highly beneficial.
3- Make a Plan for Payment – For those who hope to treat themselves for chronic pain, the payment issues related to acupressure are unimportant. However, for those who hope to visit more experienced personnel for the application of acupressure, it may be pertinent to contact your insurance and find out if acupressure is an accepted form of treatment they handle payments for. This is not necessarily the case with all insurance companies.
4- Find a Qualified Practitioner – This is another element of research. Check with people you know who utilize acupressure. They typically have found someone that is trustworthy to administer the treatment. If no one you know has found a reliable practitioner, then it is time to turn to the Internet. Search out acupressure facilities in your area and look into customer testimonials as well as the business rating for such a facility. Visit the place before committing to having a treatment done there. Ask questions. Determine if you feel comfortable with these workers, as they will be administering an important treatment that requires you to be relaxed as it is administered.
Basic Acupressure Tips
Acupressure is the belief that certain lines on the body carry the individual’s life energy and pressure is applied to these lines in order to clear blockages and thereby relieve either chronic pain, like neck pain or back pain or migraines, or significant event pain, like childbirth. Studies are being done on the efficiency of this concept. Most studies have seen a significant level of success when it comes to applying acupressure in certain studies versus those who did not have acupressure applied.
There are 365 points for use in acupressure. These points are located along 12 meridians. They are also divided into subcategories, like
- source points ( balance energy)
- alarm points (assessing condition of meridian)
- Yu points (boosts immune system)
- master extraordinary points (nervous system and internal organ boosts)
- Gates of Chi points (energy balancing points)
Novices may not have a grasp of how acupressure works and what the best ways are to work this into a daily lifestyle. For them, here are some basic things to remember for general acupressure success.
Tips for Success in Acupressure
Apply Pressure Gradually
For those suffering from intense pain, it is best to use light pressure and apply it for a few minutes. Lighten pressure and hold for a minute before letting go completely. Also, it is important to recognize that if even light pressure is too much, using light touch may still be beneficial. Meanwhile, for those with a high pain tolerance, applying intense pressure can be beneficial. Following the acupressure, it is recommended to stay in place and practice deep breathing for 5 to 10 minutes to allow your body to become relaxed and (hopefully) pain-free.
For those with little or no experience, keep the pressure application to three minutes or less.
Longer periods of acupressure should be left to more experienced individuals. For now, pay attention to indications and stop if it has a negative effect. For example, tingling means circulation may be increasing to the area. However, if dizziness occurs, it may be best to withdraw pressure or focus on the CV 17 point, which is located at the center of your chest.
Avoid pressing on cuts or wounds and do not use pressure against your throat
These will all be counter-productive efforts. Acupressure will not help if bleeding occurs due to pressure near wounds that need to heal, and pressure on your throat is generally not helpful.
When Possible, Use Reinforced Fingers
This means use more than one finger when applying pressure. For example, when using your index finger, use your middle finger on the same hand for support.
Remember this is for Your Benefit
Even when pressure is helping, muscles instinctively tense for protective purposes. Remember the pressure that is being put on these areas is intended to help you feel better. Focus on the positives, because your mindset is a big part of making acupressure successful.
Be Prepared for Different Sensations
Some people report a feeling like an electric current if two points on an acupressure meridian are pressed at the same time. This is not necessarily painful or unbearable, just a strange feeling you may not be expecting. If you are open to new feelings that are a step along the process to feel better, these feelings will come and go and you will find progress. Acupressure recipients have also experienced tingling in their hands or hot or cold sensations throughout the body. Any of these can be considered normal, as they are simply a translation of the energy moving throughout the body.
Using the points listed below, as well as researching further (see references below), can mean you find relief from neck pain through acupressure in the near future.
Effective Points Along the Spine that Help with a Stiff Neck
GB 20 – The GB 20 is located below the base of the skull, between the vertical neck muscles and at the two hollows on either side of the neck. This location requires you to put gradual pressure on both sides with fingers or knuckles. Holding the pressure, push your head backward slowly with your eyes closed. Then hold the pressure for two to three minutes.
This location is known as the Window of Heaven and helps with headaches in addition to neck and shoulder pain.
GB 21 – The GB 21 is located on the top of the shoulders. The measure is two finger widths from the base of the neck. For this point, which is actually where the most stress on the trapezius muscles is centered, it is best to use the opposite hand. Curve fingers to put the strength of your arm behind the pressure you use on this point.
This point is also known as the Shoulder Well. It is recommended that pregnant women only press lightly on this spot. Fatigue and irritability can also find relief due to pressure on this spot.
B 10 – This spot is located one thumb width down from the skull and one thumb width out from the spine. Firm and extended pressure on this point is helpful because it helps with hormonal balance. It also is beneficial for the thyroid gland.
This location is also known as The Gates of Consciousness and can help with issues like dizziness, eyestrain and irritability.
Using pressure on these points several times throughout the day is recommended to help deal with this chronic pain and give relief.
There are numerous other points as well that can be beneficial to those with neck pain.
The Heavenly Pillar, for example, is located midway between skull and shoulders on the neck. It can be found on the ropy muscles just out from the spine. Pressure here can help with a stiff neck, eyestrain, a sore throat and insomnia issues.
Meanwhile, a large hollow at the base of the skull and located in the center of the back of the head is called the Wind Mansion. This spot is useful for headaches, vertigo, mental issues and pain in the eyes, ears, nose and throat as well as neck pain.
It is recommended to apply pressure to these points on more than one occasion. Sometimes, it takes several tries before the effectiveness becomes apparent. Also, this method of pain relief will not be successful for everyone. Still, it is not advised to try it once and write it off, just in case your situation requires more attempts.
Important Don’ts for Practicing Acupressure
- Avoid doing acupressure after you have just engaged in a strenuous workout routine. This is not a time when your body is ready to be relaxed and release tensions and stress levels.
- For those recovering from a disease that has drained you physically, avoid diving into the use of acupressure.
- Make sure to eat properly while undergoing acupressure. For those who recently ate a large meal, wait for half an hour to an hour after eating. For those who have not eaten, that is not the best time to attempt acupressure either.
- Avoid the use of acupressure if you are epileptic or suffer from high blood pressure. This is particularly true when it comes to using acupressure on the sufferer’s head.
- Open wounds, serious burns or recently formed scars should not be treated with acupressure.
- Artificial joints are not to be treated using acupressure.
- Do not use alcoholic beverages or choose to have sex in the six hour time frame around a scheduled session of acupressure.
- Make sure to take particular note if an acupressure session was very effective or showed no apparent change. This is important to determine whether this treatment is worth repeating in the future.
Studies on the Effectiveness of Acupressure
Some studies have been done on how effective certain disciplines of acupressure can be. In 2011, for example, a study at the University of Colorado – Boulder showed that the discipline of Jin Shin and particularly its use on 26 points on the body could be helpful to those who suffered minor brain trauma. The acupressure treatment improved cognitive functions and helped individuals, like returning war veterans, score better on tests designed to measure that cognitive function.
Meanwhile, studies have shown that acupressure will most likely help with several levels of traumatic pain and chronic pains like lower back pain and headaches. These situations show the participants in the study have had success when using acupressure for pain, especially when compared to a control group that is not being given any type of medication or acupressure treatment to deal with these pains they have struggled with in the long term.
One big trend is the use of acupressure for treatment of motion sickness. There is a point on the inner side of the wrist that, when pressed lightly and for extended periods of time, helps with motion sickness. That is why there are actually bands in existence to provide the right level of pressure on this spot on both wrists to help those going on long trips or even those with morning sickness during pregnancy, as this also relates to morning sickness.
Despite the tendency of modern medicine to abandon any type of ancient medicine that can’t be explained to a satisfactory level with modern techniques or tests, practices like acupressure and herbal remedies are still kept alive by those willing to try things a bit out of the norm in order to find relief from pain or illness. These practices have stayed alive because they give success.
Therefore, acupressure may not be a first choice for those who tend to visit their physician at the first sign of pain or illness. However, for those who have tried all the accepted medical routes and still face pain without resolution, acupressure is a viable option. It also has been found to have success for specific situations, for diseases or disorders where the doctor cannot explain the cause and therefore has no solution for the problem. For those who have issues like this, i.e. migraines or another disorder with no concrete cause that a doctor can pinpoint, any treatment method that allows pain relief is a welcome opportunity.
Even doctors that are more open-minded to the things they cannot explain recognize the fact that the body is a giant puzzle that we have not come close to unlocking the majority of the pieces for and the explanations for how it all works. We are still learning and building on the knowledge we have. Practices like acupressure can work with no discernible reason. Therefore, it is wise to attempt a practice like this and learn the tenets that make it successful without expecting it to fit into the small box that is acceptable to modern medical practices and teams. Some medical situations can be enjoyed for their success without demanding an explanation to make it easier to comprehend.
Acupressure Points for Relieving Neck Tension: http://www.herbalshop.com/Acupressure/Acupressure_44.html
Acupressure Points for Headaches, Stiff Neck & Pain Relief
Top 6 Acupressure Points for Treating Neck and Shoulder Pain: