Hiatal hernias are functional defects occurring in the area where the stomach and esophagus come together at the hiatus opening in the diaphragm, causing part of the stomach to protrude into the chest. The sliding hernia is the most common, often causing GERD, also known as acid reflux. Burning sensations and a feeling of fullness felt in the stomach and chest are sometimes mistaken for a heart attack. Hiatal hernias are more common in women than in men and the condition is seen more often in people as they age, as a result of muscle weakness and overweight. Reducing hiatal hernias with acupressure self-treatment is an effective means of controlling discomfort.

Things You'll Need

Gently palpate the acupressure point on the inside of the arm at the elbow joint just above the crease in the elbow and to the right of the bottom of the bicep muscle. This will help relieve stomach and digestive discomfort and feelings of fullness in the chest accompanied by anxiety. Press around the area until you feel a tender spot and continue pressing until tenderness subsides.

Find the gallbladder meridian on the highest point of your shoulder, following a line straight up from the nipple. Move your fingers along the top of the shoulder muscle until you find the tender spot near where the neck and shoulder meet. Exert pressure until tenderness subsides and hiatal hernia symptoms lessen.

Press along the inner side of the wrist on either side of the central tendons, about two finger widths below where the hand meets the arm. This area relaxes muscles in the upper digestive tract and chest.

Locate the point where the ribs meet the sternum, just below your breast bone. Lying down, exert firm, gentle downward pressure, massaging this area and moving fingertips slowly downward along the belly to about halfway toward the navel. Repeat this massage several times while relaxed; practice this routine regularly at least twice a day to relieve sensations of fullness and heartburn.

After resting from the abdominal massage for several minutes, drink a glass of water. Jump downward from a bottom step or from a low stool to relieve the upward pressure of the hernia and dislodge it from within the diaphragm. The water adds weight to the stomach and helps it drop back into its correct position and away from the hiatus opening to the chest cavity.

If necessary, seek an experienced doctor of Chinese medicine to administer ongoing acupressure treatments for your hiatal hernia, in addition to performing self-treatment with acupressure points.


  • While jumping from a step or stool, if you feel unsteady, place the stool near a doorknob or other stable hand hold for safety.

  • When bending over or picking up heavier objects, avoid breathing inward and holding the breath, thus placing additional pressure on the hiatal hernia.