Lower Back Pain (LBP) is the leading cause of disability in the world with ergonomic postures at workplace contributing the most of it. Among non-pharmacologic therapies, Acupressure in treating chronic lower back pain has been found to be effective to some extent. Apart from legs, the lower back portion of our body bears the maximum weight providing support to remain erect. The lower back portion offers a range of motions enabling us to move and bend in all possible directions.
Prolonged strain, age and other clinical conditions are responsible for LBP which can leave you cramped. Our body has a secret arsenal of specific pressure points which are targeted in acupressure techniques to relieve us from the painful condition. The trick lies in identifying the points accurately and applying pressure of specific intensity.
There are many ways and protocols to treat low back pain and related issues with acupressure. The cause for the low back pain according to Eastern medicine may be the stagnation on Qi in the lumber area due to trauma, entry and retention of cold or damp or wind in the gall bladder (GB), urinary bladder (UB) and governing vessel channels (GV) that obstructs Qi as well, or it can be cause by Xu of the Qi in the kidney. The following acupressure methods shown target these points of origin to ease pain, based on symptoms. Remember not to perform acupressure on yourself without consultation with a doctor if you are pregnant.
Find a Comfortable Position
To begin with, help your subject to move his or her body to a position in which the pain begins to appear. Based on the symptoms, the pain may be either due to trauma (caused by some sort of sprain) or accumulation of cold and damp, or a deficiency in Kidney Qi. There are 12 main points on the bladder meridian and these are known as the Back Shu points. They relate to the organs in the body and depending on the symptom, specific points must be treated, which connect 67 points in all. Remember never to apply direct pressure to the spine and always apply pressure either with the heel of the hand or the knuckles.
Wear comfortable clothes, keep your fingers clean and nails neatly trimmed so you don’t hurt yourself or your subject. Also, don’t practice acupressure right before a meal or on a full stomach. Limit your acupressure sessions to at most an hour, and don’t focus on one area for more than 15 minutes.
Apply pressure on points Bladder 23 to Bladder 25 on the less painful side
First, apply pressure at pressure points from UB23 to UB 25, on the less painful side. Bladder 23 (known as the Sea of Vitality) is located 1.5 cun lateral to GV 4 and leveled with L2. (Look at the diagram for the position). Trace a line from the bottom of the rib cage and press lightly with the index finger about an inch out from the spine to the side that hurts less. The pressure should be firm and penetrating, and hold from 30 seconds up to 2 minutes, gently circling around the point.
UB 23 is the main acupressure point for chronic low back pain caused by accumulation of cold and damp or kidney Qi problems. This point is to be treated if there is pain in the lumbar area and a heavy sensation, or if there is muscle stiffness in the area with limited movement or if the pain spreads to a larger area such as the buttocks up and down the leg. Also, don’t drink iced drinks before a session as extreme cold can weaken your system, especially during winter. Also, don’t hold any point longer than ten minutes.
Apply pressure on points Bladder 23 to Bladder 25 on the more painful side.
Next, apply pressure at the symmetrically opposite side of the body at points Bladder 23 to 25. Keep in mind that when you apply pressure at a painful area, you have to find a pressure that is a balance between pleasure and pain, since the area is more sensitive. Hold the pressure for about 2 minutes. Repeat until pain recedes.
Initially the area may feel cold to the touch or it may feel cold to the patient, since the pain may have been caused by exposure to pathogenic damp or wind. Such a pain may often be related to the weather and may not be alleviated by bed rest. Acupressure at these points may also benefit the patient if the pain is not very severe but causes a sore spot.
Apply pressure on Points Bladder 27 to Bladder 34 on the less painful side.
The pressure points from Bladder 27 to 34 are the sacral pressure points that can relieve low back pain as a result of labor or menstrual cramps. Reach the points either by rubbing the base of the spine and creating warmth or by having the subject lie on their back with knees bent and feet flat on the bed and rocking their pelvis right and left to stimulate the points. Alternatively, make a fist and rub the knuckles of the hand around the area of the lower spine to stimulate all of them.
Urinary Bladder 27 is about 1.5 inches or 3 cun lateral to the dorsal midline. It’s also known as the Small Intestine’s Hollow. For any pain in the lumbrosacral region or the knees, treatment at UB 27 and at the pressure points up to Urinary Bladder 34 will help the pain to recede.
Apply pressure on Points Bladder 27 to Bladder 34 on the more painful side.
Next apply pressure at the corresponding pressure points for Urinary Bladder 27 to Urinary Bladder 34 on the side of the body that is more painful. As always, apply a pressure that is a balance between pain and pleasure, acupressure is not an exercise in pain endurance. Hold the pressure for 30 seconds to 2 minutes until there is some relief.
The Urinary Bladder points 31 to 34 together from what is known as the ‘Eight Liao’ points which help local low back or sacrum problems and also help most urinary and genital disorders. Clinically, UB 32 is used the most. UB 28 is the source of all bladder issues such as damp heat.
Apply pressure on Point Bladder 48 on the less painful side
Next apply pressure at Urinary Bladder 48, which is about 3 cun lateral to the medial sacral crest (find it by going one to two finger widths outside the sacrum) and at half the distance between the base of the buttock and the top of the hipbone.
This point relieves pain in the hips, in the low back and pain due to sciatica. Acupressure at the point works by dispelling damp and cold pathogenic winds and aids sacral pain. It also regulates the gall bladder and helps to clear damp heat. It’s known as the Yang Headrope. It’s important to remember that self-acupressure should not be carried out by pregnant women, and a medical practitioner should be consulted before a pregnant women submits to acupressure treatments.
Apply pressure on Point Bladder 48 on the more painful side
Next, repeat the process of pressure application at Urinary Bladder 48 at the side of the body that is more painful. Apply pressure for about 30 seconds to 2 minutes in a gradual but focused way, so that it’s not too painful but there is penetration at the same time.
While acupressure is beneficial, it is recommended that if the chronic back pain is accompanied by other bladder problems and the pain extends to throbbing in the legs and lower body, see a doctor. There may be more complications that you are not aware of if that is the case. Also, accompany a session of acupressure with a hot herbal tree or any other hot drink, rather than iced drinks, along with a period of relaxation, for maximum benefit.
Apply pressure on Point Bladder 54 on the less painful side.
Now, apply pressure at the point that is Bladder 54, on the less painful side of the body. This point is also known as the ‘Lowermost Edge’, and is located in the area of the sacrum, about 3 cun lateral to the GV line. As always, keep applying the pressure for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, until you feel relief in the affected area.
This particular pressure point is an effective target especially for treating sciatica, and more so if the pain radiates from the lower back towards the legs. It can help treat lumbrosacral pain in general, alleviate muscle atrophy, help to treat numbness and any problems in movement of the lower body. Remember not to focus on any one area of the body for more than 15 minutes, as that can lead to energy depletion and even nausea.
Apply pressure on Point Bladder 54 on the more painful point.
Finally apply pressure at the Bladder 54 point corresponding to the more painful side of the body. Make sure that the pressure is firm but gentle.
Not only can this treatment lower the pain in the affected region, it can also strengthen the back by expelling pathogenic cold and damp that can cause chronic pain which is unrelieved by bed rest. This point is also one of the Five Lin (‘Painful Urination’), which are the origins of urinary disorders that are painful.