Acupressure, often called “acupuncture without needles”, is an alternative medicine technique that originated in traditional Chinese medicine. It is, in fact, derived from acupuncture and, therefore, it also strives on the concept that the body is divided by a system of meridians, through which our vital energy flows. Illnesses, pain and discomfort are believed to be caused by imbalances in those 14 meridians and acupressure may rebalance our yin, yang and qi (our vital energy). By applying pressure to certain points of our bodies, using hands, elbows, fingers or other devices, the followers of this technique believe that they are unblocking those meridians, thus forcing the qi to flow correctly once again.
Acupressure may be used to relieve a number of conditions, including arthritis and arthritic pain. Struggling with arthritis is quite challenging and people are often quite open to try alternative or additional methods and techniques, which will complement their prescription therapy.
Acupressure may help relieve pain deriving from arthritis in 3 ways:
- Applying pressure in an acupressure point allows for an increased flow of energy. This energy may heal the joints and relieve pain.
- This technique will enable the release of endorphins, our body’s natural painkillers. Endorphins are natural chemicals found in our brains, which are proven to be produced during acupressure sessions.
- Since this technique improves circulation, it can be useful to release stress and tension, which is a precious aid when you want to reduce inflammation in your body.
Although acupressure points vary from patient to patient, the following list includes the acupressure points most commonly used to treat arthritis pain (refer to the image for a more precise location).
- Crooked Pond: located on the upper edge of the elbow crease, this point will be quite helpful to relieve pain in the elbow and shoulder.
- Outer Gate: two and a half fingers above your wrist crease, between the two bones in your arms, you will find this point, which is quite useful to relieve rheumatic pains, tendonitis and arthritis in your wrist and shoulder.
- Joining the Valley: in the web between your thumb and your index finger, exactly where these two fingers are brought together. It relieves inflammation in the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders and neck.
- Three Mile Point: you will find this point four fingers below your kneecap and one finger to the outside of your leg. It is used to strengthen the body, while relieving joint pain and fatigue.
- Gates of Consciousness: at the base of your skull, in the hollow spot between the large neck muscles. It is used to relieve arthritis symptoms, as well as all sorts of neck pains.
Before attempting any sort of self-treatment, be sure to get clearance from your health care professional. If you do decide to have a go at acupressure, make sure you use strong pressure, while holding and massaging the point for 3 to 5 minutes at a time or until you achieve an improvement in your pain level.