Acupressure is a type of complementary therapy that can help alleviate migraine symptoms in some people. This technique is similar to acupuncture in that it involves stimulating distinct pressure points on different parts of the body. Migraine is a neurological disorder that causes moderate to severe headache pain and other symptoms. For some people, this condition is fraught with consequences.
Acupressure is an alternative medicine technique that involves applying manual pressure to separate parts of the body called pressure points. The general goal of acupressure is to relieve pain and promote healing. Acupressure is based on the same principles as acupuncture. Both techniques originated in ancient Chinese medicine, and both involve stimulating sensory nerves under the skin to release painkilling substances called endorphins.
This article discusses scientific research on the use of acupressure to relieve migraine symptoms. We also provide tips and advice for people who want to practice acupressure at home.
Is acupressure effective for treating migraine?
Some evidence suggests that acupressure or acupuncture therapies can help relieve some of the symptoms of migraine. A 2017 study found that acupuncture therapy may provide better chronic migraine symptom relief compared to medication. In this study, acupuncture therapy was also associated with fewer side effects.
A later 2019 study investigated whether self-administered acupressure could improve sleep quality and fatigue in people living with migraine. The researchers divided the participants into two groups: One group applied pressure to recognized pressure points, while the other applied pressure to “fictitious” pressure points. Neither group showed an improvement in sleep quality, but both groups showed reduced levels of fatigue. However, this reduction was greatest for the group administering acupressure on recognized pressure points.
Finally, a 2019 review found consistent evidence to suggest that acupuncture is safer and more effective than using medication to prevent migraine. However, the authors noted that more high-quality research involving a wider range of people is needed to confirm this effect.
Ear pressure points
There are several pressure points around the ear that can help alleviate some migraine symptoms. Here are some examples:
The door of the ear
Located between the top of the ear and the temple. Rubbing or applying pressure to this point may provide some relief from facial or jaw pain.
The apex of the ear
Located at the tip of the ear. Applying direct pressure to this area can help reduce the pain associated with migraines.
hand pressure point
To relieve headaches, a person can try rubbing a pressure point in the hand called “Hegu” or “LI-4”. This pressure point is located at the base of the thumb and index finger.
Applying pressure to the Hegu can help relieve headaches. One should use the thumb of his opposite hand to apply firm pressure to the Hegu for about 5 minutes. She can repeat this several times a day, if necessary. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), practitioners should not apply pressure to this point when a person is pregnant.
Foot pressure points
Stimulating certain acupressure points on the foot can also help alleviate migraine symptoms. Here are some examples:
Point Tai Chong
This point is located approximately 1 to 2 inches from the base of the big toe and index finger. Applying pressure here can help relieve insomnia or anxiety, and can lower blood pressure. This point is also to be avoided during pregnancy.
above the tears
Located behind the fourth and fifth toes of the foot. Some evidence suggests that applying pressure to this point can help reduce the number of migraine attacks a person has.
Move Point or Liver 2
Located between the big toe and the index finger. There is some evidence to suggest that applying pressure to this point can help relieve pain associated with migraines.
Other pressure points
Stimulating other pressure points in the body can also help relieve migraine symptoms.
Here are some other points to consider:
The third eye or Yin Tang
Located between the two eyes. Applying gentle pressure to this pressure point can help relieve stress and improve energy levels.
The piercing bamboo or bladder 2. Located on either side of the nose, near where the eyebrows meet. Some research suggests that acupuncture in this location may be as effective as medication in preventing migraine attacks.
Gates of Consciousness, Feng Chi, or Gallbladder 20.
Located between the two vertical neck muscles at the base of the skull. Applying pressure to these points can help relieve headaches and improve energy levels.
The shoulder pit, Jian Jing, or gallbladder 21.
Located about halfway between the shoulder joint and the base of the neck. Applying pressure to these points can help dull headache pain and reduce stress. In traditional Chinese medicine, practitioners should not use this point with pregnant people.
How is the pressure applied?
In order to stimulate pressure points, a person or therapist must apply firm pressure to the affected area. One can also consult a licensed acupuncturist who will stimulate the pressure points using small needles. It is possible to find licensed and certified acupuncturists in acupressure, shiatsu or even acupuncture.
Can we do it at home? How ?
Pressure points can be stimulated at home by following these steps:
Sit down or relax in a comfortable position.
Use a thumb or finger to apply firm, deep pressure to the pressure point.
While applying pressure, make small circular motions to help stimulate the pressure point.
Repeat the massage as often as you wish throughout the day.