June 27, 2023

Can Acupressure Help with Headaches?

acupressure for headaches
Headaches are a common condition that nearly everyone has experienced. And while over-the-counter or prescription medications can help relieve the pain, some people prefer other interventions. 

One alternative or complementary treatment for headaches is called acupressure. Practitioners believe it can reduce headache pain without medication.

This article provides information on acupressure, including an overview of acupressure points.  

What Is Acupressure?

Acupressure is a type of massage that follows some of the same principles as acupuncture. While acupuncture uses thin needles inserted in the skin to affect energy lines or meridians that proponents believe run through the body, acupressure is non-invasive. It uses physical touch at various points on the body. 

Can acupressure help headaches? Healthcare professionals differ in their opinions on its effectiveness. Some studies have suggested it may reduce muscle tension and improve blood flow by stimulating myofascial trigger points, and those responses might help control headaches. However, more research is needed. 

Still, you may want to try acupressure to see if it improves your headache symptoms. 

Acupressure Points for Headaches

There are several points on the body that acupressure practitioners believe you can stimulate to reduce or eliminate headaches. To use them, you simply apply gentle pressure or massage the spot with your fingers or thumbs for a few minutes at a time. 

Some of the acupressure points for headaches include:

  • Third eye. This point is centered between your eyebrows. You stimulate it by applying gentle pressure or a circular massaging motion. 
  • Drilling bamboo. This term refers to two points, one on each side of the spot where the bridge of your nose meets your brow bone. You can press both simultaneously with your index fingers or alternate between them. 
  • Gates of consciousness. These two spots are on either side of your spine where it meets your skull. You activate them simultaneously using the index and middle fingers of both hands. Or another option is to interlace your fingers behind your head and press or massage the spots with your thumbs. 
  • Shoulder well. Each shoulder well spot is approximately halfway between the base of your neck and your shoulder joint. You apply pressure to one spot at a time using your index and middle fingers.
  • Union valley. This spot is in the loose skin between your thumb and index finger on each hand. You activate it by squeezing or massaging with the thumb and index finger of your other hand. 

You may also see the points above referred to by their Chinese names (union valley as hegu, for example). There are many resources online listing acupressure points and their purposes if you want to learn more.  

Talk with Your Doctor About Using Acupressure Points for Headaches

It’s unlikely that light pressure or massage on an acupressure point will harm you, and it may provide some relief from headache pain. However, it’s a good idea to talk with your Baptist Health doctor before starting any treatment. 

If your headaches are severe or persistent, your primary care physician may refer you to a neurologist for specialized assessment and treatment. 

Learn More.