About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us

Hand Shiatsu Explored as a Sleep Aid by Pain Pilot

by Himabindu Venkatakrishnan on June 18, 2014 at 1:49 PM
Font : A-A+

 Hand Shiatsu Explored as a Sleep Aid by Pain Pilot

Nancy Cheyne and many other sufferers of chronic lower-back pain could find relief with the Japanese massage practice called shiatsu as a potential treatment.

There was a time, back in Nancy Cheyne's youth, when she combined the poise and grace of a ballerina with the daring and grit of a barrel racer. When she wasn't pursuing either of those pastimes, she bred sheepdogs, often spending hours on her feet grooming her furry friends at dog shows.


All that seems like a lifetime ago. After 15 years of living with chronic lower-back pain, Cheyne, 64, can't walk from the disabled parking stall to the elevator at work without stopping for a rest. She eats mostly junk food because it hurts too much to stand over the stove and spends most of her spare time in a recliner with a heating pad.

Despite pain patches and opiates, Cheyne often lies awake at night in the same recliner—sleeping in a bed is like torture—after waking every couple of hours in excruciating pain.

"Pain affects everything I do," says Cheyne. "The chronic ongoing lower-back pain, it's all the time."

Researchers at the University of Alberta are exploring the traditional Japanese massage practice called shiatsu as a potential treatment to help Cheyne and others like her find slumber—and stay asleep. A small pilot study followed nine people living with chronic pain as they self-administered shiatsu pressure techniques on their hands at bedtime.

"We know that sleep involves both physiology and learning. You don't just flip a switch and go to sleep," says Cary Brown, an associate professor of occupational therapy in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. "What we saw with this pilot is that it appears self-shiatsu may help your body to prepare for sleep and help you stay asleep for longer periods."

For the study, occupational therapy and physical therapy students were taught the basic shiatsu techniques and in turn trained participants, who reported falling asleep faster—sometimes even while administering treatment—and slept longer after two weeks and eight weeks of treatment, compared with a baseline measurement.

Cheyne spent about 10 to 15 minutes every night performing the treatments and found that instead of waking up every 45 or 60 minutes, she could stay asleep for 1.5 to two hours. Given she hasn't felt well rested in more than a decade, every minute counts and she still keeps up her treatments months after the pilot concluded.

"Usually within a few minutes of doing the pressure treatments, I'm gone—asleep," she says. "Sometimes I can't even finish, I just go out."

Results promising, but more study required

Brown cautions it's impossible to draw strong conclusions about the pilot given the small sample size, self-reported nature of the data and limitations in gender; however, she believes the results are promising enough to warrant further study.

Brown also notes there's a difference between people with pain passively going to a therapist versus taking control of their sleep problem in the form of self-administering hand shiatsu, which requires more mental effort—a theory of cognitive attention that she would like to explore further. Hand shiatsu, when self-administered, takes some concentration because our minds cannot focus on two demands at one time, she says, making it less likely that negative thoughts would interfere with sleep.

"One of the barriers to falling asleep for people who have pain is they worry about what's going to happen and while you're laying there you're thinking about all these negative things, it occupies your attention," Brown says. "This relates to research on attention in cognitive theory."

The pilot was an attempt to explore low-cost, unintimidating alternatives to drugs to help people with chronic pain fall asleep, noting medication is seldom recommended for long-term use. Brown collaborated on the project with shiatsu therapist Leisa Bellmore of the Artists' Health Centre at Toronto Western Hospital and U of A colleague Geoff Bostick.

For patients suffering from chronic pain due to low-back and other musculoskeletal injuries, the only thing that matters is finding results that work, Brown says. Not only does sleep deprivation lower a person's pain threshold, it also affects their health, from increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and traffic accidents.

More research is needed in foundational areas to break the cycle, she adds.

"If you have insomnia, you face a higher risk of experiencing chronic pain. If you have chronic pain, you're not going to get as much sleep."

Source: Eurekalert

News A-Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Printed Temperature Sensors help with Continuous Temperature Monitoring
Health Benefits of Giloy
Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021 - It's time to RISE
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Oral Health And AIDS Snoring AIDS/HIV AIDS/HIV - Epidemiology AIDS/HIV - Clinical Features AIDS/HIV - Health Education AIDS/HIV - Prevention And Transmission AIDS / HIV - Treatment AIDS/HIV- Lab Tests and Faqs AIDS - Initial Theories and Disease Progression 

Recommended Reading
Yoga and Back Pain
The healing effects of yoga benefit those suffering from backpain, by alleviating their pain and ......
Fantasies Fight Phantom Limb Pain
'Phantom' Limb is a sensation in an amputee's stump that generates the feeling that the amputated .....
Vitamin D: A Possible Solution to Chronic Pain
Chronic pain may be resolved by taking vitamin D treatment, even when pain management pills do not ....
Virgin Atlantic's Masseurs Get 300K Pounds Joint Payout For RSI From Shiatsu for Customers
Two former beauty therapists, who sued Virgin Atlantic after they developed repetitive strain ......
AIDS - Initial Theories and Disease Progression
AIDS was first detected in early 1980s, among gays, Haitians and black Africans. HIV is a descendant...
AIDS / HIV - Treatment
Encyclopedia section of medindia explains in brief about the treatment for AIDS/HIV...
"AIDS is an epidemic disease, a potentially preventable, deadly infection for which there is no cure...
AIDS/HIV - Clinical Features
Encyclopedia section of medindia gives general info about HIV Clinical Features...
AIDS/HIV - Epidemiology
AIDS or HIV is an epidemic disease, a potentially deadly infection that can be prevented with preca...
AIDS/HIV - Health Education
Encyclopedia section of medindia gives general info about AIDS information and health education....
AIDS/HIV - Prevention And Transmission
Encyclopedia section of medindia explains in brief about the prevention for AIDS/HIV...
Oral Health And AIDS
AIDS has taken on massive proportions in modern times. It is estimated that over 15 million people a...
Turbulent airflow causes tissues of the nose and throat to vibrate and the noise produced by these v...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use