Acupressure techniques for interstitial cystitis

Acupressure, an ancient technique of Chinese medicine, can be used to relieve symptoms of interstitial cystitis.

What is Interstitial Cystitis?

The Interstitial Cystitis Association defines interstitial cystitis, or I.C., as "pelvic pain, pressure or discomfort related to the bladder typically associated with urinary frequency and urgency, in the absence of infection or other pathology."
According to the National Kidney and Urologic Disease Information Clearing House, patients who have I.C may contain a substance within their bladders that prevents cells lining the walls of the bladder from growing normally. There is not a medical "cure" for I.C., although often it may disappear without explanation, and diet and other lifestyle changes may alleviate or eliminate symptoms.

How is I.C. Treated?

There are medications, surgical treatments and an electrical nerve stimulation procedure available for the treatment of I.C. However, diet modification can also be effective at eliminating symptoms. Sodas, dairy products, alcoholic drinks, carbonated drinks and many fruits, for example, often aggravate symptoms of I.C. If you have I.C., you may be able to identify which specific foods worsen your symptoms.

What is Acupressure?

Acupressure provides varying degrees of relief for a wide variety of health conditions. According to Kevin Boyd, the author of A Beginner's Guide to Acupressure, the philosophy of Chinese medicine is that our life force, or "chi," runs along meridians in the body.

The Philosophy of Chinese Medicine

Boyd says, "We remain healthy when the flow balances internally and externally. We become ill when internal or external events disturb the flow. Along the meridians are a large number of pressure points that act as valves for the flow of chi. Stimulating acupoints restores balance, relieving symptoms."

Acupressure and I.C.

Acupressure can be applied to help relieve the symptoms of I.C. It is best to use acupressure in conjunction with other techniques to control I.C. You are more likely to reduce pain and urgency if you also eliminate foods that you know worsen your symptoms. Acupressure without diet control may be ineffectual if the bladder is re-irritated.

Applying Acupressure

To apply acupressure, you can use your knuckle, the point of your finger or the eraser-end of a pencil. Apply pressure to the acupressure point for 15 to 30 seconds. Then apply pressure to the same spot on the other side of your body, your other leg, hand, etc.

The acupressure points for cystitis are 5, 28, and 36. Acupressure point No. 5 is located a palm's width over the top of the inside ankle bone on the back side of the shin bone. The 28th acupressure point is after the bone on the smallest toe. The 36th acupressure point is two palms and the width of a thumb above the top of the ankle bone.

Effects of Acupressure

Acupressure may provide some relief immediately, and the other benefits may continue to assimilate into the body for about three days. If you receive some relief from acupressure but are still experiencing troublesome symptoms, you may want to consider acupuncture, which is based upon the same philosophy as acupressure but often used in more acute situations.

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