Acupressure

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Category: Complementary and Alternative Therapies

What is it?

Acupressure is a form of touch therapy that utilizes the principles of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. In acupressure, the same points on the body are used as in acupuncture, but are stimulated with finger, hand, and elbow pressure or with various devices.

How does it work?

Acupressure is thought to work similarly to acupuncture but without piercing the skin. Acupuncture is reported under a separate category. Acupressure uses these key pressure points on the skin to encourage the flow of energy "Qi" to the related physiological systems and internal organs to promote self healing. Acupressure is intended to affect and balance the energetic system of the body in order to treat the physical body as well as the mind, emotions and energetic fields.

Is it effective?

The effectiveness of acupressure in the literature has been studied in reference to nausea associated with pregnancy, post operation and motion sickness and has shown some effect, especially in cancer patients. It has also shown some effectiveness for the treatment of lower back pain. To date there is minimal research in the effectiveness of acupressure as a treatment for PTSD.

Are there any disadvantages?

Acupressure should not be applied to open wounds, or where there is swelling and inflammation. Areas of scar tissue, blisters, boils, rashes, or varicose veins should be avoided. Finally, certain acupressure points should not be stimulated on people with high or low blood pressure and on pregnant women.

Where do you get it?

There are books on self-acupressure techniques but it is always a good idea to seek the advice of a medical professional first before attempting self treatment. There are also trained professionals listed under the Natural Therapy Pages website.

What are the evidence limitations?

There is currently no explicit evidence to support acupressure as an independent intervention for PTSD. Much of the evidence base is derived from lower levels of evidence such as expert opinion and clinical experiences. Therefore interpreting this evidence should be undertaken with caution.

Recommendations

Based on the current lack of high quality evidence, the use of acupressure as a treatment for PTSD cannot be recommended. More research is required. It may be considered as an adjunct to other PTSD interventions, such as psychological and pharmacological interventions.

Key References

Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health 2007, ‘Australian guidelines for the treatment of adults with Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Practitioner Guide’ National Health and Medical research Council, viewed 11 December 2008,
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Ezzo, JM, Richardson, MA, Vickers, A, Allen, C et. al. 2005, ‘Acupuncture-point stimulation for chemotherapy induced nausea or vomiting’, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol. 23, no. 28, pp. 7188-7198.

Heazell, A, Thorneycroft, J, Walton, V & Etherington, I 2006, ‘Acupressure for the in-patient treatment of nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: A randomized control trial’, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol. 194, no. 3, pp. 815-820.

Hsieh LL, Kuo CH, Yen MF, Chen TH, 2004, ‘A randomized controlled clinical trial for low back pain treated by acupressure and physical therapy’, Preventative Medicine, vol. 39, no. 1, pp.168-76.

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