8 Best Pressure Points to Relieve Headache Pain
Relieving tension, stress, and soreness is literally in your hands. Just follow our DIY guide.
Press here for your head
There’s nothing like a throbbing noggin to wreck your day. But instead of reflexively reaching for painkillers that can have side effects, you could actually help your body heal itself: In Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture and acupressure have been used for pain management for thousands of years, and it looks like Western science may finally be catching up. “Science is showing more and more that the stimulation of certain pressure points can affect the neural fibers in the brain as well as the peripheral nervous system,” says Paul Robison, a licensed acupuncturist based in Washington, DC, and the founder of Live Love Flourish.
The theory behind acupressure is that stimulating certain pressure points on the body can release tension and improve blood flow, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Acupuncture involves inserting needles along specific pathways, called meridians, which may stimulate the body’s healing process. “It’s all about releasing tension and restoring balance in the body,” Robison says.
Needles vs. fingers
With acupuncture, trained professionals use superfine needles to target key points. While acupressure—using fingers instead of needles—may not be as precise, it may help, says Robison. You can get even better results with the guidance of an acupuncturist such as Robison; a pro can also help you develop a personalized protocol you can follow at home. For those seeking relief right now, Robison provides the following guide to pressure points for headache pain. Plus, check out these other home remedies for headaches.
For tension headaches and jaw pain
Pressure point: SI 19
Start at the tragus, that small bit of cartilage in the center of your ear, and move your finger forward about an inch. Open and close your jaw and you should feel a slight depression. Place your middle, index, and ring fingers on that spot and massage in small, counterclockwise circles. Slowly move your fingers down the jawline.
For headache pain on the top of your head
Pressure point: DU 20
These kinds of headaches may be caused by stress. Press your middle fingers into the highest point at the top of your head and make very small circles, slowly moving down either side of your skull toward your ears. Find out more about the different types of headaches and ways to relieve them.
For eyestrain headaches
Pressure point: UB 2
Use the tips of your index fingers and press in the inner corner of the eyebrows in the small depression. Apply steady pressure to these pressure points for headache pain in small circles for a minute, then release. Repeat 3-5 times.
Pressure point: Yu Yao
Use the tips of your index fingers to press at the midpoint of the eyebrow for a minute, then release.
For sinus headaches
Pressure point: LI 20
Press on either side of the bridge of your nose with your thumb and forefinger. Repeat three times.
Pressure point: DU 24
Using your two index fingers, press the center of your forehead at the top, making very small circles, and slowly move down either side of your skull toward your ears. Check out these ways to stop headaches before they even start.
For general headaches
Pressure point: LI 4
“Meridians are pathways of circulation in the body,” says Robison. You can treat pain by accessing either end of those paths. This is why not all pressure points for headache pain are located on your head. To activate this point, make an L shape with your left hand and use your right thumb and fingers to rub the spot where the two legs of the L meet. (Note: Expectant mothers may want to skip this move, as it’s said to induce labor.)
For temple headaches
Pressure point: GB 1
People do this intuitively when they’re stressed, says Robison. Place your forefingers in the soft depression on either side of your face outside your eyes. Rub gently using a firm, circular motion. Robison suggests using an up and forward motion if your ache is due to sleep deprivation or screen time, and a back and down motion if it’s caused by physical strain. Next, find out some surprising things you didn’t know could be triggering your headaches.
- Northwestern Medicine, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine: “Traditional Chinese Medicine–Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine.”
- Paul Robison, LAc, NCCAOM diplo, a licensed acupuncturist based in Washington, D.C. and the founder of liveloveflourish.com.
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “Acupressure for Nausea and Vomiting.”