Treating Headaches and Migraines with Acupressure

Treating Headaches and Migraines with Acupressure

Acupressure is an offshoot of Acupuncture, the ancient Chinese practice of inserting thin needles at strategic points to align the body’s energy meridians. Acupressure is a non-invasive approach for activating certain pressure points to alleviate pain and dysfunction. Nine specific pressure points can be easily targeted to quickly relieve pain from headaches and migraines.

Acupressure Technique

Using correct technique is key to effectively activating your body’s headache pressure points. You can have a friend or family member perform acupressure for your headache, or you can do it yourself.

Follow these tips for acupressure success:

  • Place the patient in a relaxed seated or lying position

  • Instruct them to breathe deeply and rhythmically

  • Identify the exact location of the targeted pressure point

  • Press firmly with your fingers, making small circular or up and down motions

  • Continue pressure until the patient feels a mild ache, about 10-15 seconds

  • Release and repeat 3-4 times

  • Apply acupressure to meridians on both sides of your body

Acupressure Technique

You can perform acupressure several times per day, but be sure to give your body a rest. Begin with light pressure and gradually increase as needed, according to the patient’s tolerance.

Remember that headaches and migraines are often caused by stress. Learning to manage stress is the best way to avoid headache pain.

Locating Headache Pressure Points

Acupuncture, and its offshoot acupressure, are based on various meridian lines that run along the surface of your body. To accurately locate acupressure points, you can reference the Atlas of Acupuncture Points. The main pressure points for headaches are located in the following meridians:

Follow these tips for acupressure success:

  • LU lung meridian

  • LI large intestine meridian

  • GB gall bladder meridian

  • SI small intestine meridian

  • SP spleen meridian

  • ST stomach meridian

Locating Headache Pressure Points

It is important to keep in mind that everyone has a unique anatomy, and your headache pressure points may be slightly above or below the indicated location. To find your own pressure points, close your eyes and gently probe with your fingers along the meridian line near the location of the pressure point.

9 Pressure Points for Headaches and Migraines

All points are referenced with the body in anatomical position, that is, standing erect with the arms at your sides.

  • LU-7. This point is located at your wrist, above the distal epiphysis of your radius. In layman’s terms, it is on the thumb side of your wrist, above the place where your radius bone protrudes, in line with your thumb.

  • LI-4. Find this pressure point about an inch-and-a-half above the webbed junction of your thumb and forefinger, below the protuberance of your radius.

  • Nostrils. Pinch your nose cartilage just below the bony protuberance.

9 Pressure Points for Headaches and Migraines
  • LU-9. Located at the crease of your inner wrist, in line with your thumb.

  • GB-21. Find this point midway between the bony prominence formed by your 7th cervical vertebra and the highest point of your trapezius muscle.

  • SI-17. Located at the back edge of the jawbone, just below the ear.

8 Pressure Points for Headaches and Migraines
  • GB-20. Find it at the base of the back of your skull, on either side of the groove formed by your neck muscles.

  • SP-6. Located just above your inner ankle bone, along the edge of your tibia (shin bone).

  • ST-36. This point is found about 4 inches below your kneecap, on the outer edge of your shin bone.

7 Pressure Points for Headaches and Migraines

Other Causes of Headaches and Migraines

In addition to stress, headaches and migraines can stem from poor posture, muscle imbalances and compensation patterns adopted after an injury. They can also be associated with degenerative disc disease in your upper spine.

Common musculoskeletal conditions that cause headaches include:

  • Referred pain from myofascial trigger points located in the muscles that support the neck and head. Superficial trigger points can be felt as tiny hard knots just below the skin’s surface, and can be released using pressure and massage. Deep tissue trigger points cannot be palpated from the surface. Effective treatment requires ultrasound guided dry needling to accurately target the trigger point and stimulate release.

Other Causes of Headaches and Migraines
  • Cervicogenic headaches arise from issues in the cervical spine that put pressure on the nerves that innervate the head and brain. Treatment may require chiropractic care and physical therapy, to restore neck alignment and function, and alleviate headache pain.

  • TMJ syndrome, a disorder where the temporomandibular joint becomes misaligned and malfunctions, causing pain and stiffness in the jaw, and sometimes causing headaches. TMJ syndrome requires intervention by a chiropractor or physical therapist.

  • Text neck, a 21st Century postural phenomenon where the head is thrust forward for extended periods of time while viewing a mobile device, altering the alignment of your upper spine, and causing neck pain and headaches.

Headache and Migraine Pain in NYC

While learning to manage stress and using acupressure for headache symptoms can be effective approaches for self-treatment, chronic headaches may be caused by musculoskeletal issues that are not so easily resolved.

At NYDNRehab, we use the latest technologies and innovative treatment methods to identify the underlying cause of your headaches and resolve them. You don’t have to live with chronic headaches. Contact NYDNRehab today, and get rid of your headaches for good, so you can get on with your busy life.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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