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Acupressure Points for Stomach Pain and Abdominal Issues

Acupressure Points for Stomach Pain and Abdominal Issues

We have all experienced stomach pains at some point in our lives. There can be many reasons why your stomach may hurt. Luckily, the most common ones are often something you should not worry about too much. And for these, acupressure can be an effective way to ameliorate abdominal pain by addressing many of the factors that play a role in causing it.

Acupressure works by addressing these issues using knowledge handed down by ancient traditional Chinese medicine. By locating the appropriate acupoints and applying gentle pressure to them, you can benefit from a technique which promises almost immediate results.

In this article, we will look at how acupressure can help you with stomach pains that are caused by different abdominal issues. However, before we take a closer look at how you can adopt this method, we first need to address the most common reasons you may be feeling stomach pains.

What Causes Abdominal Pain?

There are many conditions that can lead to abdominal pain. Many common factors do not pose a major concern and usually pass after a short period. For these, acupressure can work miracles in a very short period of time. However, there are some issues that may require immediate medical attention. 

This is because there are many organs situated in the abdominal region, and, if they become affected by inflammation or disease, they are likely to cause a stomach ache. Any of the following organs experiencing issues can lead to abdominal pain:

  • Small intestine and colon (usually the most common source of abdominal pain)
  • Appendix
  • Stomach
  • Spleen
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Kidneys
  • Gallbladder

Here are the most common causes of stomach ache and how to recognize them.

Stomach Flu (Gastroenteritis)

Stomach flu is mostly caused by bacteria or viruses. It is accompanied by abdominal pain and cramps, watery diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting, occasional muscle aches or headaches, and low-grade fever. These symptoms usually last for one or two days, but, in some cases, they can sometimes persist for as long as ten days.

If you are suffering from stomach flu, it is important to keep yourself well-hydrated and control your body temperature. See a doctor in any case, but do so especially if you:

  • Cannot keep liquids down for more than 24 hours
  • Have been vomiting for more than two days
  • Are dehydrated
  • Notice blood in your vomit or stool
  • Have a fever higher than 104 F (40 C)

Gas

Sharp abdominal pain, bloating, and belching are a common result when too much gas accumulates in the gut. These are a few reasons why this happens. 

For example, foods rich in fibers and sugars are prone to cause gassiness. And some components are hard to break down, especially if you are intolerant to some of their ingredients. 

This is true for foods that contain raffinose and other complex sugars. Raffinose is found in beans and legumes, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, wheat and other whole grains.

Intolerance and sensitivities to certain substances can also lead to gassiness. Some examples include lactose, fructose, gluten, and garlic intolerance. And in some instances, gassiness comes as a result of  swallowing excessive air by drinking carbonated or fermented drinks, chewing gum, or eating hard candy.

While these instances are benign, there are some cases when excessive gas may be pointing to a more serious underlying condition. Many of these conditions also contribute to abdominal pains and can include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Food poisoning
  • Celiac disease (a serious autoimmune disease)
  • Overgrowth of bacteria
  • A blocked intestine (caused by abdominal hernia, extra tissue, colon or ovarian cancer)
  • Crohn’s disease

Constipation

The increased pressure on the colon when too much waste accumulates in the bowel can be another reason for stomach ache. Constipation happens when the body absorbs too much water from the food, resulting in difficulty and straining when passing stool. This causes abdominal pain, stomach cramps, bloating and nausea, indigestion, and loss of appetite.

Constipation can be the result of different causes, the most common of which are:

  • Lack of fiber in the diet
  • Physical inactivity or changes in routine
  • Medications (such as opioids, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, diuretics, calcium channel blocking drugs, aluminum-containing antacids, and laxatives)
  • Dairy products
  • Medical conditions and disorders (such as IBS, neurological disorders, endocrine and metabolic conditions, systemic diseases, and cancer)
  • Pregnancy
  • Lack of water intake
  • Rectum or colon issues

Indigestion

Also known as an upset stomach, indigestion can lead to stomach aches, bloating, nausea, uncomfortable fullness, discomfort, a burning feeling, and nausea. It is also less commonly known to lead to vomiting and belching. You may experience indigestion because of some negative habits, or as a result of digestive conditions.

The most common causes of indigestion include:

  • Fatty, greasy, or spicy foods
  • Overeating or eating too quickly
  • Taking too much caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, or chocolate
  • Smoking
  • Certain medications (like antibiotics, painkillers, and iron supplements)
  • Anxiety

Digestive conditions that lead to indigestion include:

  • Gastritis
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Celiac disease
  • Constipation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Stomach cancer
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Intestinal ischemia
  • Gallstones

Other Issues Known to Cause Abdominal Pain

The abdominal region is a complex system where one condition can easily lead to or interact with another. In other words, many of the more serious digestive conditions mentioned above lead to some of the main culprits behind abdominal pain either by causing another condition to trigger it or by triggering the pain themselves.

Here are a few other conditions that are known to cause stomach ache:

  • Menstrual cramps
  • Endometriosis
  • Urinary tract and bladder infections
  • Appendicitis
  • Parasite infection
  • Gallstones and gallbladder inflammation
  • Abdominal hernia
  • Abdominal muscle injury
  • Abdominal aneurysm
  • Abdominal organ injury

Hopefully, the stomach ache you are dealing with is a benign one, which is bound to wear off after a while. However, if you have a reason to believe that you may be dealing with a much more serious issue, we strongly advise that you consult a healthcare professional.

The Science Behind Acupressure and How It Can Help With Stomach Aches and Abdominal Issues

Acupressure is based on the principles of acupuncture, where, instead of using needles, one can use their thumbs and fingers to apply pressure to the same acupoints or pressure points. These acupoints are located on what are known as meridians - channels of energy which connect to the body’s organs and deliver the vital energy known as Qi (ch’i). 

By applying finger pressure on acupoints, you can manipulate the energy imbalances that lead to certain issues. This non-invasive method allows people to practice it safely on themselves, and it promises results similar to those of acupuncture. However, while acupressure is effective for common ailments, it is not intended to replace professional health care.

The scientific community recognizes acupressure as an alternative health method that can help relieve many common abdominal issues such as stomach pain, gastrointestinal movement, constipation, menstrual cramps, gassiness and bloating, and others.

In fact, studies have shown acupressure is even effective on bed-ridden patients with post-operative abdominal issues, like those caused by caesarean sections, and it can even lower the pain before an appendix removal. The pain-relieving results are achievable even when people apply acupressure on themselves.

The Acupoints Related to Stomach Ache and Abdominal Issues

There are several pressure points that are related to the abdominal region. Applying acupressure to these points can help you to relieve the stomach pain caused by various abdominal issues.

Union Valley (LI-04)


Image credit: Modern Reflexology

This acupoint is located on the web between the index finger and the thumb. Applying acupressure to it improves overall intestinal function, relieves abdominal pain, regulates diarrhea and constipation, and even helps to fight dysentery.

Inner Gate (PC-6)


Image credit: Explore IM

This acupoint is located approximately three fingers above the wrist crease on the inner side of the arm. Massage it with your thumb to relieve stomach ache, indigestion, nausea, morning sickness, vomiting, and even reduce anxiety.

Crooked Pond (LI-11)


Image credit:
Modern Reflexology

You can find this acupoint on the side of the elbow, on the outer side of the arm. You need to bend your forearm toward your neck, and locate the end of the crease at the elbow, about halfway up the side of the arm. Stimulating it helps with abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation.

Middle Cavity (CV-12)


Image credit: Smarter Healing

This acupoint is located halfway between the bottom of the breastbone and the belly button. Stimulating it helps with relieving stomach pains caused by abdominal spasms, indigestion, constipation, as well as stress and anxiety.

Sea of Qi (CV-6)


Image credit: Smarter Healing

You can find this powerful acupoint two finger widths below the navel. Stimulating it brings healing Qi energy to the body, while also relieving abdominal pain, constipation, digestive problems, gas, and lower back pain.

Sea of Vitality (B-23, B-47)


Image credit: Smarter Healing

These acupoints are located near the spine at the waist level. By applying acupressure to these points, you can help to calm abdominal pains and stomach aches, while reducing indigestion. Do not stimulate them if you have a damaged spine.

Leg Three Miles (ST-36)


Image credit: Smarter Healing

You can find this acupoint four fingers below the bottom knee cap, along the outer boundary of your shin bone. If you are at the right spot, you should feel a muscle pop up as you move your foot up and down. Stimulating this acupoint soothes stomach aches, stomach cramps, promotes healthy digestion, and helps in the treatment of stomach disorders.

Grandfather-Grandson (SP-4)


Image credit: Modern Reflexology

This acupoint is located on the inside of the foot three finger widths behind the base of the big toe. Stimulating it helps to relieve stomach pain, diarrhea, indigestion, nausea, gassiness, and other abdominal diseases.

Bigger Rushing (LV-3)


Image credit:
Modern Reflexology

You can find this acupoint between the big toe and the second toe. Place your finger at the webbing and slide back one inch. You should be able to feel between the two bones. This point helps with relieving abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and with improving gall-bladder health.

How to Use Acupressure to Relieve Stomach Aches

Once you have familiarized yourself with the locations of the acupoints, it is time to start applying pressure properly.

  1. Place your finger on the acupoint and apply gentle pressure, just enough to move the skin.
  2. Start moving the finger slowly and gently in circles.
  3. Increase the pressure gradually with every few circles, allowing the muscle fibers to relax. If you are massaging an area without a muscle, keep applying slow, steady, downward, circular pressure.
  4. You should feel a dull, aching sensation. However, do not go to the extent of pain - stay within your comfort zone. Apply the acupressure for at least a minute.
  5. If you do not feel the effect immediately, repeat the procedure after several minutes.

A Word of Caution

Acupressure can be a very useful tool if used with caution and on healthy tissue. However do not use it as a replacement for medical treatment. Some stomach aches may point to serious conditions that require immediate medical care.

Avoid using acupressure if:

  • The acupoint is under scar tissue;
  • There are varicose veins;
  • There is a wound, swelling, or other damage;
  • You have rheumatoid arthritis, bone disease, or spinal injury; or
  • You are pregnant (as certain acupoints may provoke contractions).

We also suggest that you consult an acupressure specialist before starting any self-treatment.

How an Acupressure Mat Can Help with Headaches and Migraines

Acupressure mats are designed to provide deep pressure to acupoints when you lie or stand on them. The effects from an acupressure mat are similar, if not as effective, to those of manual acupressure, and it is recommended that you use them for at least 5-10 minutes at a time.

The risk with using an acupressure mat is the randomness involved in the treatment. This is because an acupressure mat will inevitably stimulate different pressure points, which can be taxing on the body. This effect, however, is quickly evened out.

Furthermore, people with thin skin or poor circulation (such as the elderly or diabetic) should avoid using them, as the pressure may pierce the skin and cause infections.

In other cases, acupressure mats are safe and can provide great comfort and pain relief.

If you are interested in using acupressure for stomach pain and abdominal issues and are looking for a high-quality, long lasting acupressure mat made of eco-friendly material, check out the acupressure mat by Dosha Mat.

Conclusion

Acupressure is an effective treatment for relieving minor stomach pain and abdominal issues. By applying pressure on certain acupoints, you can help relieve stomach pain caused by various abdominal issues. An acupressure mat is another alternative option for treating stomach pain that will provide deeper pressure to the acupoints for effective relief. Give acupressure a try the next time your stomach is feeling a little off and see how it helps!

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