resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
September, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 09
Research Shows Acupressure Reduces Chronic Neck Pain
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
Contributed By Derek R. Austin, MS, CMT, April Neufeld, BS, LMT, NCTMB, Sandra K. Anderson, BA, LMT, ABT
In this month's Massage Therapy Foundation Research Column, we are taking a critical look at the effects of acupressure.Widely accepted in Japan, many Americans are unaware of the many benefits of manual acupressure. It is a noninvasive technique in which, instead of needles, the practitioner's fingers press on traditional acupuncture points. Acupressure has been shown to be calming, relieve pain and induce relaxation.
Lead author Dr. Takako Matsubara, PT, an Associate Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation at Nihon Fukushi University, Japan, and his colleagues studied an area of interest to most massage therapists - chronic neck pain. Their research article, "Comparative Effects of Acupressure at Local and Distal Acupuncture Points on Pain Conditions and Autonomic Function in Females with Chronic Neck Pain" was published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Matsubara and colleagues randomly allocated 33 female subjects (n=33) to three groups. Group one subjects received acupressure at three tender points consistent with local acupuncture points (LP) "Jianjing" (GB 21), "Jianwaishu" (SI 14), and "Jianzhongshu" (SI 15). These local acupuncture points align with tender points in the trapezius muscle with acupressure (see Figure 1). Group two subjects received acupressure at three distal acupuncture points (DP); in this study, distal meant points distal to the location of the neck pain. These points were "Hegu" (LI 4), "Shousanli" (LI 10), and "Quchi" (LI 11). These distal acupuncture points are traditionally associated with neck-shoulder-arm disorders in Chinese/Japanese traditional medicine (see Figure 2). A third group, termed the control, received no acupressure at all.
Subjects were assessed about pain intensity using a verbal rating scale (VRS); the intensity of neck pain or stiffness was evaluated on a numerical scale from 0 to 3 (0: no pain, 1: mild pain, 2: moderate pain, and 3: severe pain). Subjects were also assessed about pain-related disability using the Neck Disability Index (NDI), pain-related anxiety using State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-I (STAI-I), and about muscle hardness (MH) on bilateral trapezius muscles. Pain-associated stress was assessed using salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) activity and heart rate variability (HRV) to determine parasympathetic and sympathetic activity. Low electrical frequency fluctuations in heart are indicators of sympathetic and parasympathetic activity, and high electrical frequency fluctuations are indicators of parasympathetic activity.
Parasympathetic and sympathetic activity in the test subjects was measured because several previous reports showed that the effects of acupuncture and acupressure are due to influencing the autonomic nervous system. The acupressure treatment lasted about ten minutes per session. Three sets of acupressure were applied with thumb pressure in a rotary fashion at 20-25 cycles per minutes for 30 seconds on each of the three assigned local or distal points on the right side of the subject's body; the same procedure was followed on the left side. The same investigator applied acupressure in all cases.
There were no significant differences among the three groups pre-treatment. There were no measured changes in pain, stiffness or autonomic activity in the control group throughout the study. However, in the LP and DP groups, the VRS, STAI-I, and MH significantly decreased immediately following treatment, indicating a decrease in pain and stiffness. The next day, the NDI was significantly lower compared with pre-treatment in the LP and DP groups. The subjects' heart rates significantly decreased and high frequency component of HRV significantly increased, indicating a parasympathetic autonomic response, only in the LP group.
This study is notable for its use of both local and distal acupressure therapy. Both appear to be effective in relieving chronic neck pain in only a single ten minute session, with significant next-day effects on the NDI, a validated measure of pain-related disability. Interestingly, reduction in pain in the LP and DP groups as assessed by the VRS were not significantly different from the control group at the one day follow-up.
This study by Matsubara et al., is limited by the lack of longer term follow-up beyond one day, the small sample size of 11 participants per group, and the inherent inability to blind the practitioner and participants from knowing which treatment was administered or received. As a primary measurement of pain intensity, the authors could have used a 10-cm visual analog scale (VAS), which may have been more sensitive to differences between groups at the one-day follow-up. Also, the addition of a "sham acupressure" group would have helped rule out the possibility of placebo effects or effects stemming from touch, not acupressure per se. Finally, the sample used in this study only included women; men might respond differently to acupressure applied to the points used in this study.
In conclusion, acupressure to both local and distal acupuncture points significantly reduces chronic neck pain in this randomized, controlled trial. The researchers point out that most clinicians combine local and distal acupuncture points in clinical practice, and they suggest that further research should assess combinatorial effects. This Open Access journal article is freely available in PubMedCentral at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2952311/.
Author's Note: For additional research about accupressure, please see Robinson et al.'s 2011 Open Access review entitled, "The Evidence for Shiatsu: a systematic review of Shiatsu and acupressure" published in BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine and available at www.biomedcentral.com.proxy.library.vcu.edu/1472-6882/11/88.
Editor's note: For more information about massage therapy research, visit the Massage Therapy Foundation at www.massagetherapyfoundation.org.
Click here for more information about Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.