Acupressure is a type of complementary therapy that may help improve symptoms of migraine 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 head pain and other symptoms. For some people, this condition has serious consequences.
Acupressure is an alternative medicine technique that involves applying manual pressure to separate parts of the body called pressure points. The overall goal of acupressure is to relieve pain and promote healing. Acupressure is based on the same principles as acupuncture. Both techniques originate in ancient Chinese medicine, and both involve stimulating sensory nerves under the skin to release pain-relieving substances called endorphins.
This article discusses scientific research on the use of acupressure to relieve symptoms of migraine. We also provide tips and advice for people who want to practice acupressure at home.
Is acupressure effective in treating migraine?
Some evidence suggests that acupressure or acupuncture therapies may help relieve some of the symptoms of migraine. A study by 2017 found that acupuncture therapy may provide better relief from symptoms of chronic migraine compared to medication. In this study, acupuncture therapy was also associated with fewer side effects.
A subsequent study by 2019 investigated whether the Self-administered acupressure may improve sleep quality and fatigue in people 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 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 review of 2019 a found consistent evidence suggesting that acupuncture is safer and more effective than using medications 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 a few examples:
The ear gate
Located between the top of the ear and the temple. Rubbing or applying pressure to this point may provide some relief from pain in the face or jaw.
The apex of the ear
Located at the end of the ear. Applying direct pressure to this area may help reduce pain associated with migraines.
Hand pressure point
For to relieve headaches, a person may 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 forefinger.
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 operation 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 a few examples:
Tai Chong Point
This point is located approximately 1 to 2 inches from the base of the big toe and index. Applying pressure to this area can help relieve insomnia or anxiety, and may lower blood pressure. This point should also be avoided during pregnancy.
Located behind the fourth and fifth toes of the foot . Some evidence suggests that applying pressure to this point may help reduce a person’s number of migraine attacks.
Displacement 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 may help relieve the pain associated with migraines.
Other pressure points
Stimulation of 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 here may be as effective as drugs in preventing migraine attacks.
Doors of Consciousness, Feng Chi, or Gallbladder 20.
Located between the two vertical muscles of the neck, at the base of the skull. Applying pressure to these points can help relieve headaches and improve energy levels.
Shoulder Well, Jian Jing, or gall bladder 21.
Located about halfway between the shoulder joint and the base of the neck. Applying pressure to these points can help ease headache pain and reduce stress. In traditional Chinese medicine, practitioners should not use this point with pregnant people.
How is pressure applied?
In order to Stimulating pressure points, a person or therapist should apply firm pressure to the affected area. You can also see a licensed acupuncturist who will stimulate the pressure points with small needles. It is possible to find acupuncturists approved and certified in acupressure, shiatsu or even acupuncture.
Can we do it at home? How?
Pressure points at home can be stimulated by doing the following:
Sit or relax in a comfortable position.
Use a thumb or finger to exert firm, deep pressure on the pressure point.
While applying pressure, make small circular motions to help to stimulate the pressure point.
Repeat the massage as often as you want throughout the day.
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