According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 40 million adults will suffer a headache in a given year. Headaches range in severity from mild to severe and can last minutes to hours to days.
The causes of headaches can be stress, eye strain, sinus pressure, emotional distress or even injury to the neck and/or back.
Headaches can also be caused by medical disorders such as hormones, migraines, blood pressure, illness, anxiety or depression.
In this article, we’ll be covering a series of pressure points for headache relief.
They’re proven to work and guess what, the techniques are simple and free. So turning them into a daily habit wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.
One headache a year is likely caused by one of the former where chronic headache sufferers likely suffer from one of the medically related causes such as migraines.
Unfortunately, people who suffer chronic headaches or migraines can suffer to the point that they find it difficult to attend work or school.
Headaches are further defined as primary or secondary.
Primary headaches are usually considered illnesses on their own, commonly migraines, cluster and tension headaches.
Secondary headaches are usually symptoms of another condition that stimulates the pain-sensitive nerves of the head.
These include a brain tumor, blood clots or bleeding in or around the brain, alcohol-induced hangover, carbon monoxide poisoning, illness like influenza, dehydration, panic attacks, stroke, concussion or even overuse of pain medication also known as rebound.
It is important to see your doctor if the headaches worsen or persist or don’t improve with medication use as it could be a sign of something worse.
Aneurysms and stroke both tend to start with headaches but, like so many other medical conditions, not always.
As far as treatment options go it will depend on the type of headache you suffer from.
In order to understand some of these treatments, it’s important to understand what a migraine headache is.
The blood vessels in our body have the ability to constrict (squeeze) and dilate (expand/open). With a migraine, the vessels in the head react by constricting tight then suddenly dilating and allowing blood to flow freely and quickly causing a build-up of pressure and, therefore, severe pain.
The best options for headache relief are rest, pain medication and trying to reverse the cause such as with a hangover.
Depending on the type of headaches you suffer from, the frequency of them and the severity, you may simply be able to reach for over-the-counter medications like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen).
However, if your headaches are chronic your doctor may have to prescribe medications for you that will help to prevent them.
These medications could be any of the following:
1. Certain types of antidepressants such as Cymbalta
First designed to aid those with depression and anxiety it was later discovered that this SNRI (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) family of medications also aids in decreasing the pain signals fired off too rapidly with certain conditions such as fibromyalgia and have gone on to get approvals for use in chronic pain.
2. Antiepileptic (seizure) drugs
Gabapentin is a fairly old medication first brought out to aid in seizure control.
Over time it has been discovered that these medications help to relieve pain that is commonly caused by damaged nerves.
A newer version of Gabapentin, called Lyrica, made its debut several years ago now and is used often to treat the nerve pain associated with diabetes and, often times, radiating pains caused by sciatica.
Depending on the type of headache one of these medications could be chosen.
3. Beta blockers.
Typically used to control blood pressure this family of medication relaxes and opens up blood vessels for better blood flow.
This medication would be used to prevent migraines by keeping the vessels relaxed and open… not allowing them to constrict and then suddenly dilate.
4. Family of Triptans
These were created specifically for migraine treatment. The original one was intended for daily use but the multitude that followed are used as a treatment at the time of the migraine.
These medications actually force the blood vessels that have suddenly dilated to constrict pulling back on the force of blood into the head and relieving the pain.
Of course, there are also narcotics (codeine, oxycodone, morphine, etc.) which need to be used with care because not only are they addictive but they can cause rebound headaches from overuse.
Fortunately, we live in a time when there are plenty of alternative options available.
Alternative Options to Relieve Headaches
- Chiropractic – which is gentle, manual manipulation of the spine and joints
- Massage – where the therapist works the muscles generally with her hands to manipulate and ease tensions accumulated within the tissue
- Acupuncture – uses needles inserted at certain points of the body that are known to be linked to common channels;
- A variety of herbals, nutritional health products, and essential oils – not only discovered but better understood with what those minerals and herbs can do in the body, many of which have been used in Eastern medical practices for centuries.
Massage Therapy and Pressure Points
Massage therapy has been around, like Eastern medical practices, for a very long time (centuries) and can be used for headaches, back pain, stress, muscle strain or just to keep the body relaxed and feeling good.
Massage primarily focuses on relaxing muscles with pressure and actively triggering pressure points.
Pressure points are located all over the body and lie along lines or channels of energy that help to regulate the flow of energy through the body.
These are the same points used by acupuncturists and massage therapists.
When we have overused a muscle, often times we can work that muscle and find a spot that’s extra sore and if we gently apply pressure to it the spot tends to slowly ease.
These are similar to the pressure points being mentioned here.
Reflexology uses only points on the feet or hands that channel upwards to various parts of the body and, again, uses pressure.
What can you do with these points? Relieve the pain in your head with your own fingers!
There are seven different pressure points commonly related to the head and headaches which will help you to relax as well.
A) Face Reflexology
1. Third-eye Pressure Point is located between your eyebrows. This commonly works well for tension headaches or those caused by eyestrain. Apply pressure with your index finger and gently massage for 60 seconds.
2. Facial Beauty Pressure Point can be used for sinus pressure and pain. These pressure points are next to each of your nostrils. Apply pressure on both points for 60 seconds.
3. Drilling Bamboo Pressure Points are found just below the start of your eyebrows at the bridge of your nose. You commonly see people who squeeze there when they have eyestrain and they are correct in the location as a relief point.
It also works for sinus pressure. For this point, you want to hold pressure for about 10 seconds then repeat 5-10 times.
4. Union Valley Pressure Point is located on the hand at the point between your thumb and index finger where it’s webbed. When pressure is applied correctly it can ease tension throughout the body.
Pinch the webbing using the fingers of your other hand for about 10 seconds followed by massaging small circles in one direction for 10 seconds then reverse directions for another 10 seconds. Switch hands and repeat again.
B) Neck Reflexology
1. Gates of Consciousness Pressure Point – is found on the back of your neck. When the right amount of pressure is applied it helps your neck relax which helps ease tension headaches in turn.
For this point place 2 fingers-index and middle fingers of each hand in the hollow space between the two neck muscles at the base of your skull. Apply firm, upward pressure equally for 10-15 seconds then let go. Repeat until you can feel the neck muscles start to relax.
2. Wind Mansion Pressure Point – is at the hollow spot under the base of your skull. This point is also used for tension headaches caused by tension and stiffness in the neck. Use your thumb to locate the hollow spot then apply pressure and maintain it for 60 seconds.
3. Shoulder Well Pressure Point – is located halfway between the neck and shoulder joint. If you place the palm of the opposite hand on your shoulder with the baby finger just at the top of the arm you should feel a small dip under your index finger.
This is the point you want. Apply firm, circular pressure to this point for at least 60 seconds. Then switch to the other side and repeat the entire process all over again.
Of course, there are never guarantees that any of these points will be effective.
It depends on the type of headache you have and, sometimes, the duration and severity of it. Sometimes getting someone to help apply pressure is better.
Taking control over our own health and what we put into our bodies is the best we can do.
Often times we don’t have the means to use chiropractic or massage therapies so knowing where the points are and knowing what works to relieve pain is the first step on the path.