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Acupressure for Migraine

What is acupressure?

Acupressure is yet another form of pressure point therapy which has been practised since ancient times in Japan and China and is a combination of both massage and acupuncture.  It has since then evolved into its current form which uses a system of special massage points and is still widely practised in Japan.  Today acupressure is similar to acupuncture, the only exception being that the skin is not punctured.

Acupressure is applied by using either the fingernails, fingers or needles with a rounded ballpoint-type end.  In some cases, battery-operated devices which can deliver a low-current electrical charge to the meridian points or acupoints are utilized.  Similar precautions applied to acupuncture is also applicable to acupressure as well.

In fact, many migraine sufferers had made their own personal discovery that they are able to stop their head pain temporarily by simply applying pressure on their temples during a painful migraine attack.  Although how this exact mechanism really works is still pretty unknown, this practice is commonly reported to be rather effective and to really work well.

In the year 1992, studies have shown that by attaching a simple elastic headband with rubber disks over the temples, 87% of the participants found temporary relief for their migraine headaches.  There were also reports of migraine sufferers utilizing other varieties of homemade devices for compressing their temples such as tying a bandanna or a simple scarf around the temples.  Other preferred methods was to lie with their painful side down onto a firm icepack.

Aside from the temples, other points that you can try to compress to provide temporary relief can include:

  • the spot behind the head and where the skull bone meets the very top part of the neck
  • the center of the forehead which is just above the eyebrows level
  • the ridge above the eyes just beneath the eyebrows
  • the area between the first finger and the thumb on the non-palm side of the hands.

This also relates to following meridian points, or accupoints, with either stimulation or relaxation approach. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to outline the various types of acupressure treatment; it is clear that there are a wide variety of these approaches. Indeed, a generalized concept is that energy focuses in the feet, hands, or ears, with many acupuncture and acupressure points located in these regions. The belief is that these therapeutic interventions release various neurotransmitters, which travel along the nerve lines or meridians, and ultimately affect a variety of processes. Treatment, and release of these pressure points, can ultimately result in improved health, beyond just the pain relief.

Acupressure warnings

Using acupressure as a treatment for migraines is not encouraged under these conditions:

  • During pregnancy particularly beyond the 3rd month as certain pressure points may induce a premature labour.
  • Having a heart condition.

Acupressure therapy should not be applied if the acupoints are located in regions of the skin which has:

  • Abrasions
  • Bruises
  • Breaks in the skin
  • Cuts
  • Moles
  • Warts
  • Varicose veins