Self-Acupressure Can Improve Bowel Function

acupressure-2Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal complaint among men and women. About 4 million people in the United States have frequent constipation, resulting in several visits to the doctor’s office. There are several treatment options available to relieve constipation symptoms but self-applied pressure may be all that’s needed to help improve your bowel function.

According to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, applying external pressure to the perineum – area located between the anus and genitals – helped constipation suffers have a normal bowel movement. So how does it work? Acupressure reduces muscular tension, increases circulation and enables deep relaxation. This form of self-acupressure relaxes the anal sphincter muscles – muscles that help open and close the seal where stool comes out of your body. The relaxation occurs when pressure is applied by the fingers to the perineum.

Constipation and Its Causes

Constipation is a condition in which a person has uncomfortable or infrequent bowel movements. Doctors generally make a diagnosis of constipation when bowel movements pass as small amounts of hard, dry and lumpy stool, several times a week. Constipation is caused by the colon absorbing too much water. In a non-constipated person, food moves through the colon (large intestine) and absorbs water while forming stool. Muscle contractions then push the stool toward the rectum, and, by the time the stool reaches the rectum for disposal, most of the water has been absorbed, making the stool solid and a normal bowel movement. With constipation, the colon’s muscle contractions are slow, causing stool to move through the colon too slowly, resulting in too much water being absorbed, causing the hard, dry and lumpy stool. External inhibitors, such as, medications, lack of exercise, dehydration, not enough fiber in diet, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also cause constipation but can be changed to prevent it.

Treatment for Constipation

As the study found, self-acupressure is a great treatment for constipation because it relaxes the muscles needed for a healthy bowel movement. Other treatment options doctors often recommend include diet modifications, taking a laxative, medication adjustments or eliminations and lifestyle changes. If left untreated, constipation can cause complications including hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, and fecal impaction.

By performing self-acupressure just a few times a week, you should see a great difference in your bowel movements and stress level. To learn more about acupressure or other Integrative Medicine treatments, visit our website, or schedule an appointment with any of our Integrative Medicine providers by calling (513) 475-UC4U.

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