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Headaches are frequent cause for concern: Every 10 seconds, someone in the United States goes to the emergency room for a headache or migraine. The three most common types of headaches—tension headaches, cluster headaches, and migraines—can range from mild aches to a debilitating pains, and are often difficult to treat.
While your primary focus may be to relieve the pain you feel from your headaches when you have them, it is even more important to identify their root cause to protect your health and well-being. Food allergies? Stress? Lack of sleep? There are countless possible triggers, many of which can be determined through tracking what you’re doing before the start of each headache and eventually noticing subtle patterns that could clue you in to why your head is hurting.
While addressing the root cause is ideal, sometimes the origin is not obvious and you just need to find a way to alleviate the pain. Acupressure, a therapy you can try at home that stimulates acupuncture points by applying pressure without using acupucture needles, can treat headaches without the toxic side effects that come with some medications.
Headache-Relief Point Locations
Acupressure points lie along your body's meridian points and can be located by anatomical landmarks—either muscle groups or bony structures. Many of these trigger points that relieve pain associated with headaches and migraines are in your neck and head. This practice stems from traditional Chinese medicine. Some of them are located by a measurement called “cun,” which is approximately the width of your thumb. These acupoints can be stimulated on one or both sides of your body to help relieve migraine pain.
GV 24.5—Yin Tang: On the forehead, midway between the eyebrows, at the point of the third eye.
BL 2—Zan Zhu: On the inner end of the eyebrow, directly above the inner corner of the eye.
ST 2—Si Bai: On the cheek, directly below the pupil when looking straight ahead, in the depression on the bone right below the eye.
ST 8—Tou Wei: At the corner of the forehead, 0.5 cun within the hairline, 4.5 cun away from the midline of the head.
GB 1—Tong Zi Liao:0.5 cun away from the outer corner of the eye, in the depression of the temple.
GB 7—Qu Bin: Above the ear, at the crossing point of a horizontal line across the top of the ear and a vertical line across the back of the temple.
TE 17—Yi Feng: In the depression 1 cun below the earlobe.
BL 10—Tian Zhu: On the back of the neck, 1 cun from the base of the skull, on the rope-like muscle approximately 1 cun from the spine.
Acupressure Technique for Headache Pain Relief
Find a comfortable position and focus on deep breathing. Press your finger firmly onto one of the headache relief pressure points (acupressure point) and massage it by moving in a small up-and-down or circular motion for several minutes. There is no limit as to how often you stimulate a point to release the tension.
Tip: Teach a loved one how to give you acupressure—when receiving it from someone else, you can more fully relax and allow them to alleviate your headache.
While headaches are common, sometimes they merit medical attention, especially if accompanied by other symptoms. See a doctor if your headaches persist or are frequent. Seek emergency care if your headache is accompanied by a high fever; stiff neck; nausea; confusion; loss of consciousness; or difficulty seeing, speaking, or walking.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.