Acupressure

  • Acupressure has similar principles to acupuncture and can be performed in lieu of acupuncture for those of you with needle anxiety or revulsion.

Myofascial Release

  • Myofascial release therapy principles provide a physiological explanation of how acupressure works in treating pain.
  • This technique states that muscles sometimes are locked in a contracted state because they are contracted around the nerve that sends the message for them to contract and relax. This blocks the message of the nerve to the muscle so that relaxation becomes impossible.
  • The contraction can impede blood flow within the muscle by squeezing the blood vessels within the muscle which can lead to necrosis (or death) of muscle tissue.
  • Build up of calcium and potassium (chemicals necessary in contraction and relaxation) due to blocked blood flow will lead to further contraction of the muscles.
  • Build up of inflammatory chemicals due to impeded blood flow can cause pain as the inflammatory chemicals inflame the tissue surrounding the muscle contraction.
  • This constant muscle contraction can also pull joints out of place as it places uneven pressure on the joints.
  • The contraction may also pinch nerves and cause referred pain along the nerve.
  • It can lead to muscle atrophy as the muscle here cannot fully relax or fully contract.

How it works

  • Manual pressure is applied (generally with the thumbs) on the belly of the contracted muscle, where it is contracted around the contracting nerve.
  • Pressure is held any where from 5 seconds to 1 minute. When done correctly, symptoms of pain, numbness, or tingling will temporarily increase along the same pathway they were originally felt. If pressure is released too quickly, pain will not resolve (and patient will most likely be angry). But if pressure is applied to the appropriate degree, for the appropriate amount of time, the muscle will reset and relax around the nerve.
  • Often this is followed by a sometimes unnerving degree of relief from the original pain.
  • Please note that I (and I advise other practitioners as well) only use this technique after muscles and other tissues have been appropriately warmed up with acupuncture and/or Tui Na massage. This type of stimulation can be too much for some patients and is often unnecessary if proper Tui Na and Connective Tissue Acceleration is employed, as this is usually enough to provide noticeable or complete relief from patient’s pain directly following the treatment. But after proper warm up most patients can tolerate the stimulation and almost everyone appreciates the after effect.