Acupressure for herniated discs is a complementary treatment option often used in combination with other forms of alternative care, such as chiropractic and massage therapy. Acupressure is closely related to acupuncture in theory, only without using any needles in actual application.
Acupressure is practiced by acupuncturists, as well as some chiropractors, massage therapists, Doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine and physical therapists. Patients who use these hands-on methods of care to replace pharmaceutical therapy options are perhaps the most enlightened, as long as the patient understands that they are highly unlikely to realize a cure from these approaches to treatment.
Acupressure is generally used as a symptomatic pain management modality to treat sore muscles and soft tissues. In this respect, acupressure can be extremely helpful and effective. In herniated disc patients, acupressure is rarely applied directly to the affected area of the spinal column. Instead, the therapy is used to work the surrounding tissues and facilitate increased oxygenation of the painful areas of the back, neck, arms, shoulders, legs or buttocks.
Applying concentrated force directly to the spine is not the best idea, although some practitioners do just this. I had a chiropractor who loved to apply acupressure directly into my 2 herniated discs. These treatments were often excruciatingly painful and I still wonder what this doctor was thinking.
Acupressure consists of applying targeted pressure to the soft structures of the body. This treatment is closely related to deep tissue massage and can bring great relief for many types of muscular pain and related soft tissue conditions. Acupressure is not a cure for a herniated disc and is highly unlikely to enact any anatomical change in the disc itself.
Far more often, the treatment balances chi energy flow, loosens the surrounding musculature and brings blood and oxygen to the area, providing some measure of relief. Acupressure is particularly effective at providing substantial, but highly temporary respite from ischemia back pain conditions.
Acupressure, like any other form of symptomatic treatment, is not a good long-term answer for any herniated disc. The concept of using this treatment for anything more than pain management is illogical and the entire idea of manual manipulation of any type is generally misconceived for herniated disc care. Remember, even if you believe that a herniation is directly responsible for your pain, you must consider how acupressure is supposed to return that disc to a normal and asymptomatic anatomical state. It simply makes no sense.
The reasons many patients feel relief from acupressure are the same as for many symptomatic medical and complementary back pain treatments. First, the body is balanced internally, allowing it to better heal itself from the inside. Next, these physical modalities all increase cellular oxygenation and fight off the effects of ischemia. Remember that ischemia is one of the most prevalent sources of chronic back pain and herniated discs sometimes take the blame for symptoms which is actually sometimes sourced by oxygen deprivation. Last, these hands-on modalities generally soothe and relax the patient, setting the perfect mindbody environment for healing to occur.
When compared to the dangers on ongoing pharmaceutical pain management, I would recommend an organic approach, like acupressure, 100% of the time.