Beyond being a warning signal of disorder, pain can be just a nuisance. Yet relief from it, and from other “painless” discomforts, is right at your fingertips.
Traditionally we think of having five senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. But there is a sixth sense – pain.
Pain has a vital survival value. It is a warning that something is wrong and should be attended to as soon as it occurs, generally by seeking skilled, medical help.
But often pain has disadvantages which outweigh its advantages. It can outstay its welcome as a warning signal. It can be a false alarm. It can give an exaggerated idea of the underlying cause. It can be disabling for no particular reason.
It is this kind of discomfort, the debilitating aches, and pains from which we all suffer occasionally that we can learn to relieve with finger massage – a technique derived from the ancient Chinese process of acupuncture.
Treatment of the body via acupuncture points goes back to the beginning of time in Chinese medicine, but not until the end of the 19th century did the practice begin to spread into the West.
Even today, acupuncture arouses skepticism among some Western scientists, but films of patients being interviewed during the course of an operation for removing a lung or part of their stomach, or mothers giving birth by caesarian section while fully conscious and able to talk have made most people accept what was once considered impossible.
Finger massage, for getting rid of nuisance pain, in the way described here, is in no way like a full system of acupuncture treatment – that is reserved for professionals. These diagrams and explanations involve the same acupuncture points but only pressure is applied.
Each point corresponds to a certain area of the body, a very specific area. When these points are stimulated by massage, that area is being treated.
The points are easily located, even though each is very small – about half a square millimeter in size. And once they are located you can’t mistake them because the area is highly sensitive and the feeling in it quite different from the surrounding tissue.
Having located the points, place the tip of your index, second finger or thumb on them, and press down forcibly, vibrating your finger slightly or giving a rapid massage and rotating it clockwise. If you want to be more precise, you can use a pencil with a rubber on the end, or the end of a pen to press into the point.
The relief this will achieve is at least as effective as pills or medicines for complaints such as lumbago and headache, and can even be used to treat something as disturbing, if not painful, as insomnia or depression.
Remember, though, just as some people respond differently to medicines, so they vary in their response to finger massage. But in general, a few minutes should suffice.
Similarly, the length of time for which relief lasts will vary from one person to another. Sometimes it will last for only a few minutes, sometimes for hours, or even days. But the effectiveness of the point being massaged won’t vary through use. When further relief is needed, the same result will be reached by stimulating the point again.
Burns and sunburn
Relatively benign burns where the skin is reddened, like sunburn, maybe helped by finger massage. The extent is important, since even with widespread first-degree burns it is wise to see a doctor, and if there are blisters an antiseptic dressing is necessary.
One massage point can relieve burns, whatever their cause. This point is inside the hand, halfway along the fold of the wrist. (See figure 1.) Massage it strongly, and you will find that the burning sensation will diminish considerably.
This is usually the result of a twisting injury, missing a step, or slipping against the curb.
Such an injury should be taken seriously; you may have a fracture, and you should be X-rayed. But meanwhile, the ankle is swollen and very painful.
Apply firm pressure or massage to the point situated just below the bottom of the ankle bone, either on the inside or the outside, depending on where the swelling is. (See figure 2.)
The pain, and even the swelling to some extent, will lessen and you will be able to walk.
But again do be careful, massage with the finger perpendicular to the skin simply by pressing, so that you don’t displace anything, as could be unfortunate if there is a fracture, even a partial one; and see your doctor as soon as possible.
Loss of voice
You have a common cold, and suddenly or gradually your voice changes tone, breaks, or just disappears. Or perhaps you’ve had to shout excessively at a noisy party, or have given a lecture, and your throat has dried up, and you have lost your voice.
Inflammation has caused the cords to become swollen so that they cannot move freely and produce proper vibrations. In this instance acupuncture may be very helpful by relieving the congestion of the larynx, and this allows the sufferer to regain his voice.
If the loss of voice does not appear to have an obvious cause, such as a cold or sore throat, it is wise to seek the advice of an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
Measure off one hand’s breadth above the uppermost crease of the wrist, and the massage point lies on the line that runs up the center of the forearm and divides it into two halves. (See figure 3 for location.)
This is a common complaint, a disease of the Western world, and of sedentary lifestyles. There’s no doubt that lack of exercise together with an unhealthy diet – not drinking enough liquid, not eating enough roughage, green vegetables, bran, and so on – aggravates the problem.
Many people resort to taking laxatives, in the form of pills or medicines, and this is merely adding evil to evil. Either the intestine gradually becomes irritated and inflamed, and constipation gives way to diarrhoea which causes dehydration and loss of essential mineral salts; or it becomes habituated to the laxative, and larger and larger doses are required.
So any natural method which will restore regular bowel movement without traumatizing the body is to be welcomed. Massage is helpful, with one point which is very easy to stimulate.
This point is situated at the inside corner of the nail of the big toe. (See figure 4.)
The elbow is a superficial and an awkward joint which often gets knocked. And it is also often misused, particularly in sports like tennis and golf.
What actually happens? Usually when a shot hasn’t quite worked, the forearm goes too far and gets strained. The pain may be felt anywhere in the elbow, but usually on the outside at the lower end of the upper joint bone: the humerus, or funny bone.
This part of the bone is called the epicondyle and Is attached to a whole complex of muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
When one of the ligaments controlling elbow movement becomes torn or inflamed, we have what is known as “tennis elbow.” For a sedentary worker, this may be no more than a nuisance, but for a professional sportsman it can be disastrous for his career. So it is very helpful to know the point which will bring immediate relief and avoid chronic complications.
This point is at the very inside fold of the elbow when the arm is bent at a right angle. (See figure 5.)
Stimulation of this point may usefully be accompanied by active movements and can be done during or after physiotherapy.
The shock has a general effect on the system, disturbing the defense energy which flows throughout the body in a complex network of channels. So stimulation of a strategic point along one of these channels will improve the patient’s condition.
It is interesting to note that both Chinese and Western concepts of shock involve mental and physical trauma; even shock from bad news, or bereavement and mourning.
In all cases, the massage point is the same. It is situated on the right-hand side of the chest, four finger-widths above the nipple, in the space between the second and third ribs. (See figure 6.)
Older people are often woken up in the night by painful muscle cramps. Often muscular cramps also follow excessive physical exercises and occur, for example, in runners, cyclists, and swimmers.
The point which will bring quick relief from cramps is situated on the calf of each leg, right in the middle, halfway around the back, and halfway between the bend of the knee and the heel. (See figure 7.)
More exactly, the point is in the hollow which separates the two large masses of muscle which become prominent when we stand on tip-toe, and are usually the site of the cramp. This is a deep point that needs a deep massage.
Everyone suffers from toothache at some time or another, so it is especially useful to know the effective massage point. Luckily it is easily located. (See figure 8.)
It is on the index finger, on the thumb side, at the point of the right angle between the horizontal line of the base of the nail and the vertical line at the side of the nail. Use the point on the index finger of the side where the tooth is aching.
Of course this massage will not cure decay or an abscess. But it will make the delay until you can see a dentist bearable, and it may even help you undergo treatment without anesthesia.
Established severe depression is a serious illness that urgently needs medical care. However, it is often possible to prevent it from developing if the cause is due to external pressure.
In such a state, which affects a person in every way, there is no single pressure point, but rather a series of zones that will bring relief.
Lie back comfortably, relax, and massage the folds of the wrist (see figure 9) which are closest to the palm with the thumb of the other hand, first in one direction and then the other. Then massage the hollow of the stomach between the navel and the base of the ribs along the mid-line.
Finally, towards the end of the session, locate the point situated at the highest part of the skull, and massage around it energetically with circular movements. The point will be found along the line joining the ears across the top of the head.
Use this treatment several times a day, and you will gradually notice an improvement that will help you fight the beginning of the depression.
Severe diarrhea needs urgent medical attention, but there is a massage point which is suitable for use in mild cases. I must add that this point is used in China to cure cholera.
This point needs to be located with care; it is a hand’s breadth (five finger widths) below the kneecap on the external part of the leg. And it is halfway between the ridges of the tibia and the fibula. (See figure 10.)
Technically called dyspnea, this symptom is not always the result of affections of the heart, the lungs, or the nervous system. Breathlessness may be only a temporary problem arising from a nasty bout of flu or bronchitis, or even emotion, or it could be caused by a condition such as asthma, which will be treated with medicines.
But if the medicine isn’t at hand it is useful to know a method which can bring rapid relief to the breathless sufferer.
There is a bilateral massage point situated on the back, on either side of the spine and two finger widths away from the center, at the level of the third dorsal vertebra.
To find this vertebra, the patient should sit down and lower his head. You will notice a projection at the base of his neck, which is the projection of the last cervical vertebra. Going down the back, count three more protrusions, and you will have reached the level of the third dorsal.
The point is situated at two finger widths on the left and right of the spine. (See figure 11.) The point needs to be massaged energetically for a considerable time – so the patient will need help from someone. Gradually the breathlessness and wheezing will ease until the difficulty disappears, but if the attack is very severe, medical help should be obtained urgently.
Treatment of an allergy is of course complicated and requires professional medical advice.
But when you break out in a rash from eating strawberries or oysters, for example, it is just as well to be able to relieve the discomfort.
One effective massage point is at the back of the knee, exactly halfway along the crease of the joint. (See figure 12.)
The back can be affected by many things – sitting badly, picking up heavy objects, uneven pavements, or badly worn heels. The vertebral muscles may even be upset by mental disturbance, by anguish and fear. For example, you arch your back and may strain it, when confronted with unpleasantness or danger. All this hurts. So it is useful to know a massage point which will help you relax after the effort, and prevent persistent pain.
This point is situated on the back of the hand at the angle between the bones which prolong the little finger and the ring figure called fourth and fifth metacarpus. (See figure 13.)
We say we have got influenza, but this is generally inaccurate.
Real influenza is a major disease that comes in epidemic proportions and in its most serious form can kill, in spite of all the advances of modern medicine. Usually what has happened when we think we’ve got flu is that the lining of our air passages, in other words, our respiratory mucous membranes, are attacked by one of any number of viruses that are going around, and which give us a cough, a runny nose, and a temperature. This means we have got a cold. When one feels the onset of a cold, the two main points should be stimulated, as soon as possible. (See figure 14.)
The first point is on the back of the wrist, three finger-widths above the crease.
The second point is on the slope of the shoulder, halfway between the base of the neck and the shoulder tip.
Hiccups usually occur if you have swallowed and something has gone down “the wrong way,” or laughed a great deal, maybe while eating. For relief you will need help, since the massage points are on the back.
This makes sense since they are near the very points where the diaphragm is attached to the ribs. (See figure 15.)
These points are on either side of the spinal cord at a distance of two finger widths from the mid-line, on a level with the seventh dorsal vertebra. The subject should be seated and stripped to the waist.
The points are on the horizontal line joining the lower tips of the shoulder blades, as shown.
You toss and turn in bed … the very bed you’ve been looking forward to throughout a long and tiring day at work. Your nerves are getting the better of you, and you cannot get to sleep. Your mind is full of worries that plague you until the alarm goes off, announcing that it is time to get up, just as you were finally beginning to doze off.
Thousands of sleeping pills are bought every day, but it is not the right solution.
No sleeping pill can act without disturbing the delicate balance between heavy sleep which rests the body and the light sleep which follows – and rests the mind. Almost all have been found to produce only deep sleep, leaving a “hangover” next morning. Any natural method which can help you sleep is more than welcome.
There are two points which will help (see figure 16), and you should massage them slowly. The first one is situated at the end of the second toe – the one next to the big toe; and the point is at the outer angle of the nail. The second point is situated on the inside edge of the foot along the side of the big toe and behind the bony protrusion of the base of the big toe.
The major point to a massage for relief from the effects of all addiction is the drug point. This is situated on the side of the skull exactly in line with the highest point of the ear and three finger widths above it. (See figure 17.)
When drunkenness is common, an additional point to the major drug point is important. It is situated exactly at the tip of the nose, and is called the P-Tchoun (see figure 18); massage here will have a rapidly sobering effect.
For smokers who wish to stop, the major drug point (see Drug Addiction), should be stimulated. Two other points on the ear are also effective (see figure 19.) One of them is situated on the tiny bridge of flesh which forms the “root” of the ear. The second point is just behind it, almost in the middle of the hole formed by the outer shell of the ear.
These points occupy a tiny surface area and are not easy to find. But once located, massaging them several times a day will lessen the addiction to tobacco.
Travel sickness can occur whatever the method of transport – train, car, plane, coach, or boat. It starts with a giddy feeling, then nausea and cold sweats develop, finally there is a feeling of sickness and vomiting. In little children, especially, repeated vomiting can cause dangerous dehydration.
An effective point that helps these unpleasant occasions is situated on the front of the abdomen, right in the middle, between the navel and the small point at the bottom of the breast bone in the front of the chest, the sternum (see figure 20.) You will need to massage this point strongly for a long time.
Headaches are perhaps more common than aches in any other part of the body. There are a number of causes, from flu or indigestion to eyestrain or any number of psychosomatic causes.
For a headache on the forehead or temples, on one or both sides, the effective point is situated on the wrist, where the pulse is taken, but a little higher.
To locate it accurately, on the right hand, for example, hold your right-hand flat, palm upwards and thumb out; lock your right thumb over your left-hand thumb, and with the three smaller fingers on your left wrapped around your right hand, you will find that your index finger held straight will point exactly to the point of your entire forehead aches (see figure 21.) Stimulate this point on both wrists.