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Acupressure for Constipation

Rachna

 

Rachna Mehta, PT, DPT, CIMT, OCS, PRPC is the author and instructor of the new Acupressure for Pelvic Health course. Rachna brings a wealth of experience to her physical therapy practice and has a personal interest in various eastern holistic healing traditions. Her course Acupressure for Optimal Pelvic Health brings a unique evidence-based approach and explores complementary medicine as a powerful tool for holistic management of the individual as a whole focusing on the physical, emotional, and energy body.

 

Constipation is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder, with prevalence in the general population of approximately 20%. In the elderly population, the incidence of constipation is higher compared to the younger population, with elderly females suffering more often from severe constipation (1).

Is there a magic button in the perineum that makes it easier to defecate? In case you have wondered, the answer is YES!!!

A study done recently by Dr. Ryan Abbott and colleagues at UCLA’s Department of Medicine found just that. A randomized control trial was conducted with 100 subjects who had functional constipation, half randomized to treatment and half to the control group. The treatment group received training in self perineal acupressure along with standard treatment options. The control group only received information about standard constipation treatment options.

Perineal self-acupressure technique was found to be remarkably effective with statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements in Patient Assessments of Constipation Quality of Life (PAC-QOL All), modified Bowel Function Index (BFI), and the Short-Form Health Survey (SF-12v2). Patients in the treatment group also reported substantial satisfaction with perineal self-acupressure technique:

  • 72% of the treatment group reported that the perineal pressure technique helped them to “break up, soften, or pass stools."
  • 54% reported that the technique helped them to “avoid having hemorrhoid or lessened the impact of existing hemorrhoid."
  • 72% reported that the technique helped them to “avoid or better manage the effects of constipation."
  • 82% of the treatment group patients indicated that they would continue to use the technique, and 72% indicated that they would recommend the technique to family and friends (2).

In this study, perineal acupressure was applied at the Acupressure point Huiyin or CV 1 located at the perineum. Huiyin is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) not only to treat constipation, but also a variety of conditions including impotence, hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, and dysmenorrhea. In addition, there are several key Acu-points like St 36 on the Stomach meridian and CV 6 which can help with constipation and digestive disorders.

Acupressure is based on Traditional Chinese meridian theory in which acupuncture points are pressed to stimulate the flow of energy or Qi and these points reflect disorders of visceral conditions and organs.

Acupuncture meridians are believed to form a network throughout the body, connecting peripheral tissues to each other and to the central viscera. This tissue network is also continuous with more specialized connective tissues such as periosteum, perimysium, perineurium, pleura, peritoneum, and meninges (3).

Dr. Abbott’s study suggests that clinicians should consider incorporating perineal self-acupressure technique as a first-line treatment for constipation, along with conventional interventions such as increased exercise and dietary fiber intake. Benefits include being non-invasive and non-pharmacological treatment intervention for constipation with likely a lower risk for side effects and complications than commonly used medications such as stool softeners, fiber supplements, stimulants, laxatives, and lubricants (2).

As medical providers, we are uniquely trained to combine our orthopedic skills with mindfulness-based holistic interventions to empower our patients by giving them the tools and self-care regimens to live healthier pain-free lives.

The upcoming remote course Acupressure for Optimal Pelvic Health, scheduled for July 24-25, 2021, brings a unique evidence-based approach on the use of potent Acupressure points for treating a wide variety of pelvic health conditions including chronic pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea, constipation, digestive disturbances and urinary dysfunctions to name a few.

The course also offers an introduction to Yin yoga and explores Yin poses within each meridian to channelize energy through neurodynamic pathways with powerful integrative applications across multiple systems.


References

  1. Vazquez Roque M, Bouras EP. Epidemiology and management of chronic constipation in elderly patients. Clin Interv Aging. 2015;10:919-930.
  2. Abbott R, Ayres I, Hui E, Hui KK. Effect of perineal self-acupressure on constipation: a randomized controlled trial. J Gen Intern Med. 2015;30(4):434-439.
  3. Kaptchuk TJ. 2000. The web that has no weaver. Understanding Chinese medicine. Chicago: Contemporary Publishing Group, Inc.
4. Langevin, H.M. and Yandow, J.A. (2002), Relationship of acupuncture points and meridians to connective tissue planes. Anat. Rec., 269: 257-265.
5. Lee EJ, Frazier SK. The efficacy of acupressure for symptom management: a systematic review. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2011;42(4):589-603.
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