Effective Pregnancy Hemorrhoid Acupuncture Points

Hemorrhoids (or piles) are a nuisance during pregnancy.  They can occur at any time, but most commonly emerge after the first trimester.  The combination of hormones, increased blood volume, additional circulatory pathways, and pressure on the pelvic veins contribute to hemorrhoidal eruptions and discomfort.

UB57 - Located in the cleft between the heads of the gastrocnemius; UB58 - located 1" below and 1" to the outside of UB57.

UB57 – Located in the cleft between the heads of the gastrocnemius; UB58 – located 1″ below and 1″ to the outside of UB57.

Two acupuncture points used in traditional Chinese medicine for hemorrhoids are Supporting Mountain (UB57) and Taking Flight (UB58).  See Figure 1.  A safe and natural medical alternative, these two as well as almost all other acupuncture points can work alone or harmoniously with conventional care during the entire antepartum period.  The drug-free solution that acupuncture provides will relieve the medication-related fears and side effect risks that concern many pregnant mothers in seeking medical care.  Natural medicine should always be sought out first during the prenatal period, since the treatment is more gentle to the body and the side effects are few to none.  If alternative care does not produce desired results, then one may need more potent treatments with the acknowledgement that related side effects/harms could be associated.

Another benefit of treating the points Supporting Mountain and Taking Flight, are in the quick relief of hemorrhoidal pain.  In the clinic, as little as one treatment has proven beneficial in swelling reduction and reduced rectal bleeding.  In the same fashion as acupuncture, acupressure on these two acupuncture points can also provide abatement of the inflammation or rupture.  Thus, the mother-to-be can perform acupressure on herself using her thumbs or a firm object to massage the target area.  This may also be a good time for her partner to lend a helping hand.  Since UB57 and UB58 mirror the two sides of the body, both the left and right points can be treated a few times a day until the symptoms resolve.

(Figure 2) Example of patient using the Sciaticare Ball to massage UB58.

(Figure 2) Example of pregnant patient using the Sciaticare Ball to massage UB58.

A self- massage technique using the Sciaticare Ball, a versatile self-massage tool for pregnancy related aches and pains, is shown in Figure 2.  Place the Sciaticare Ball between the acupuncture point and a firm surface.  Allow the weight of the lower leg to apply pressure to UB57 or UB58 and rock the lower leg back and forth over the Ball.  The pressure on the acupuncture point should feel like a deep massage.  Perform technique for 1-3 minutes per point and repeat 2 to 3 times daily.  Daily use of the Sciaticare Ball is recommended to help alleviate this in addition to some of the other symptoms associated with pregnancy discomfort.

For those that do not believe in acupuncture as a true medical system, a partial Western medical explanation of stimulation of UB57 and UB58 is provided here.  Although some Western doctors and Eastern doctors may disagree, there is data confirming much of the reasoning below.  This is one reason (of possibly many) for the acupuncture points’ continued successes in the treatment of hemorrhoids.

Both UB57 and UB58 penetrate the soleus muscle and elicit a response from this densely innervated muscle.  This muscle plays a strong accessory role to the heart with its operation as a second pump for the circulatory system.  When supple and relaxed, the soleus delivers an effective venous pumping action with every muscular contraction.  As the additional weight and strain on a pregnant woman’s body can tighten and constrict the soleus muscle to reduce the effectiveness of this auxiliary pump, blood and lymph flow back to the heart can be impeded.  Other pregnancy symptoms that are related to the circulatory restrictions can be seen in hypertension, edema, varicose veins, and fatigue.  Stimulation of Supporting Mountain and Taking Flight points relax the soleus muscle spasms and tension, which then improves fluid flow through the lower legs.  The result is a relaxed and supple soleus muscle that can more easily pump blood back to the heart with every walking step.  The reduced pressure in the venous system decreases the enlarged veins and clears up the problem.  A healthy functioning soleus muscle also serves to lower blood pressure, reduce edema and swelling, and ease systemic blood flow.

NOTE:  These acupuncture points have proven themselves in the clinic and are backed by a few thousand years of empirical evidence.  One does not have to believe in acupuncture for it to work, nor does one have to hold it in the light of the flawed clinical trial methodology and experimentation that propose to scientifically prove or disprove every medical treatment through separation of part from whole.  Present scientific methods do not capture (and for this reason, can not confine) all the variables that true medicine represents, both alternative and conventional. Consequently, we as a species, have not and do not fully understand the entire human body model and its processes, either dissected or as a synergistic system.  The idea presented here is but one of many considerations of why these two acupuncture points work from a Western scientific model, and should therefore be understood as just that, until proven in an all-encompassing study to be either positive or negative.

4 Points For Big Toe Pain (Part 1)

Big toe (hallux) pain occurs in a significant number of people at some point in their lives.  Not only affecting athletes, hallux pain also includes the sedentary population to a significant degree.  Early assessment and treatment of big toe pain is important in preventing long-term damage and chronic reinjury.

Although hallux pain triggers are various, this article will be focused on pain due to stress and strain on the joint due to the surrounding musculature.  If hallux pain is mainly located on the plantar (bottom) side of the foot, the four points found here may help provide significant relief.  These simple points can be manipulated oneself or treated by a skilled massage therapist or licensed acupuncturist.

Point 1 –  Abductor hallucis muscle.  This muscle is responsible for plantar flexion of the hallux and some medial deviation (hallux varus) of the proximal phalanx (big toe points away from other toes).  The abductor hallucis gives structure to the medial arch of the foot as well.  Tight abductor hallucis muscles can be easily mistaken for plantar fasciitis pain.  A notable distinction is that this pain is typically concentrated along the medial arch of the foot between the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint and the calcaneous (heel).  [See Figure 1 for treatment location.]

Point 2 –  Adductor hallucis muscle.  Compared to abductor hallucis, this muscle similarly plantar flexes the big toe, but laterally deviates (hallux valgus) the proximal phalanx (big toe points toward other toes).  The opposing forces of the adductor hallucis and abductor hallucis provide stabilization of the hallux in the transverse plane.  Severe lateral deviation of the proximal phalanx is sometimes referred to as a bunion. The adductor hallucis pain is typically concentrated on the lateral edge of the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint and can spread to an area beneath the 2nd through 5th metatasophalangeal joints. This muscle is considered a deep foot muscle and will require adequate pressure for stimulation.  [See Figure 1 for treatment location.]

Point 3 –  Flexor Hallucis Brevis muscle.  The flexor hallucis brevis shares some of the function of both the abductor and adductor hallucis muscles.  Pain caused by the flexor hallucis brevis is mainly located around the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint.  This muscle is considered a deep foot muscle and will require adequate pressure for stimulation. [See Figure 1 for treatment location.]

1 - Abductor hallucis; 2 - adductor hallucis; 3 - flexor hallucis brevis

(Figure 1)  1 – Abductor hallucis; 2 – Adductor hallucis; 3 – Flexor hallucis brevis

Point 4 –  Flexor Hallucis Longus muscle.  This muscle is located outside the foot and is thus known as an extrinsic foot muscle.  It resides in the lower leg behind the soleus muscle and attaches to the fibula.  The flexor hallucis longus is a comparably large plantar flexor of the hallux and is thus responsible for strong plantar flexion of the big toe, especially during walking and running.  This muscle is one of the most important muscles to treat in big toe pain and due to its remote location, one of the least addressed.  Since this muscle is deep to the soleus, adequate pressure is necessary for proper treatment of the flexor hallucis longus.  [See Figure 2 for treatment location.]

Figure 2 - Flexor Hallucis Longus

(Figure 2) 4 – Flexor hallucis longus

In any painful foot condition, treat the musculature and soft tissue first.  Tight muscles will continuously pull on joints and elicit pain.  This common occurrance is often overlooked in sourcing joint pain.  Intolerance to orthotics may be a sign that the muscles in the foot are causing pain or problems associated with the big toe and foot.  Before seeking out orthotics, one should have the surrounding musculature checked for tender trigger points and sensitivity.  Orthotics typically solve structural problems of the foot and should not be used until all of the functional components (i.e. muscles, tendons, fascia) have been treated for some length of time.  Calf cramps, foot cramps, poor circulation in the lower extremities are other signs that muscular problems in the feet are occuring.  This functional approach to medicine can save hundreds to thousands of dollars in expenses and can circumvent more invasive procedures, such as surgery.

A simple, effective tool in maintaining the functional ability of the hallux is a rubber ball.  Roll each foot over a ball for 5 minutes a day, spending a minute or more on each of the points listed above.  Sit on the floor with legs straight out and place the ball under #4.  The weight of the lower leg may provide enough pressure to stimulate the flexor hallucis longus.  If not, cross the other leg over top of the leg being treated to increase the weight.  This procedure should be followed 4-5 days a week for a couple of months to allow the muscle spasms and tightness to abate.  This is an excellent way to promote good blood circulation, massage intrinsic foot muscles, stimulate nerve endings, and refresh tired, worn out feet.

August Point Wellness offers a self-massage tool called the Sciaticare Ball that is quite a bit more useful than the rubber ball stated previously.  The Sciaticare Ball can be used on feet, calves, back, hips, and much more.  With an easy to place handle, it allows better control in massaging those hard to reach places.  Visit www.augustpoint.com or Amazon to purchase.  As always, for best results, seek out the guidance of a licensed massage therapist or acupuncturist and combine professional treatment with self-treatment for optimal health.

Related links:

Big Toe Pain…And Gout is NOT the Diagnosis