The trigeminal nerve is located on your face and carries sensation from your face to your brain. “Neuralgia” means pain along a nerve. Thus, trigeminal neuralgia is pain in the areas of the face supplied by the nerve. This includes the cheek, jaw, teeth, gums, lips, and sometimes the eyes and forehead. It’s a chronic pain condition that can result in spontaneous bouts of pain in the affected regions and can also be triggered by even mild stimulation of the face, such as brushing your teeth or putting on makeup. It usually occurs on one side of the face at a time, but it does rarely affect both simultaneously. Women are more affected than men and it occurs most often in people over the age of 50. This article will discuss 7 acupressure points for trigeminal neuralgia.
Is Acupuncture Effective For Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Yes, using the acupressure points for trigeminal neuralgia has been shown to be effective in the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia symptoms. One study found acupuncture achieved a 95% total effective rate while the drug carbamazepine, frequently used in treatment for trigeminal neuralgia, achieved only an 87.50% total effective rate. In additional to pharmaceutical interventions, there are also some minimally invasive procedures that may help. However, all those treatments come with their associated risks, which is why using acupuncture points for trigeminal neuralgia is an attractive alternative.
Trigeminal neuralgia pain is initially experienced as short, mild attacks, as reported by mayoclinic.com. It feels like an severe, shooting, or jabbing pain, similar to an electric shock and may last from a few seconds to a few minutes, which episodes of attacks occurring over days, weeks, months, or even longer. The attacks may disappear for some time, but they can then reoccur. A constant aching or burning sensation usually precedes the spasm-like pain. The pain can be focused in one area along the nerve or more widespread, and the attacks generally become more frequent and intense over time.
The first two points should always be used as acupressure points for trigeminal neuralgia.
1. Acupoint: LI-4 (Other Names: Large Intestine-4/He Gu/Joining Valley)
LI-4, or large intestine 4, is located between the thumb and index finger at the middle point of the first metacarpal bone of the index finger. It is particularly useful for treating diseases of the face. It is classified as the Yuan-Source point of the large intestine meridian and the command point for the head and face. It functions by expelling wind and releasing the exterior, tonifying qi, strengthening immunity, stopping pain, regulating the face and head area, and inducing labor.
LI-4 is a very useful and common point for any condition related to the head and face. It also helps with Wind-Heat conditions, such as the flu. Most importantly, it is known as the primary pain point for the entire body and should be used whenever there is pain anywhere.
Yuan-Source points are useful in the treatment of conditions related to the internal organs as they are where the Yuan qi of the Zang-Fu organs passes and stays.
2. Acupoint: LI-11 (Other Names: Large Intestine-11/Qu Chi/Pool at the Crook)
LI-11, or large intestine 11, is located on the outer side of the elbow. When the elbow is flexed, it is on the lateral end of the transverse cubital crease, at the midpoint between LU-5 and the lateral epicondyle of the humerus. It also belongs to the Yangming meridian, making it a strong point in strengthening the body’s physiological functions. It is also classified as the He-Sea point of the Large Intestine meridian. It functions by clearing heat, cooling the blood, resolving dampness, expelling exterior wind, regulating qi and blood, activating the meridian, and relieving itching. He-Sea points treat rebellious qi because it’s where the qi of the meridian collects and goes deep into the body.
The following five points should be used in conjunction with the two primary points, depending on where along the trigeminal nerve the pain is located.
Orbital and eyebrow pain is relatively rare in clinical practice, but BL-2 is a useful trigeminal neuralgia acupuncture point.
3. Acupoint: Bl-2 (Other Names: Urinary Bladder-2/Zan Zhu/Gathered Bamboo)
BL-2, or urinary bladder 2, is located on the face in the depression on the inner end of the eyebrow, on the supraorbital notch. It is indicated for pain in the supraorbital region, blurring of vision, redness, and swelling and pain of the eye, as well as hiccups and spasms of the diaphragm. It functions by benefitting the eyes, clearing heat, and expelling wind. You should massage from BI-2 towards the forehead.
This includes pain in the lower orbit, upper jaw, and alveolar pain. This is the most common type of trigeminal neuralgia. The following two acupressure points for trigeminal neuralgia are useful for pain in this area.
4. Acupoint: LI-20 (Other Names: Large Intestine-20/Ying Xiang/Welcome Fragrance)
LI-20, or large intestine 20, is located at the midpoint lateral to the border of the ala nasi, in the nasolabial groove. It is classified as the crossing point for the LI and ST meridians. It functions by dispelling wind, opening the nasal passages, and clearing heat. It is indicated for nasal congestion, epistaxis, wry face, itching of the face, and biliary ascariasis. You should massage from LI-20 towards the earlobe.
5. Acupoint: GV-26 (Other Names: The Governing Vessel-26/Ren Zhong/Middle of the Person)
GV-26, or governing vessel 26, is located on the face at the junction of the superior 1/3 and middle 1/3 of the philtrum. It is classified as the crossing point on the governing vessel with the large intestine and stomach meridians. It functions by resuscitating, treating acute lumbar sprain, and also benefits the nose. It is indicated for syncope, heatstroke, coma, mental disorders, trismus, manic psychosis, epilepsy, acute lumbar pain, gastric pain, wry mouth, and swelling of the face. You should massage from GV-26 towards the earlobe.
This includes pain in the jaw.
6. Acupoint: ST-7 (Other Names: Stomach-7/Xia Guan/Below the Arch)
St-7, or stomach 7, is located on the face, behind the ear, in the depression between the zygomatic arch and the condyloid process of the jaw. It is classified as the crossing point of the stomach and gallbladder meridians. It is indicated for deafness, tinnitus, toothache, nasal congestion, wry face, difficulty in opening the mouth, facial pain, and TMJ. It functions by clearing obstruction in the meridian, benefitting the ears, jaw, and teeth.
7. Acupoint: ST-6 (Other Names: Stomach-6/Jia Che/Jaw Bone)
ST-6, or stomach 6, is located on the cheek, with the teeth clenched, in the depression one middle finger width anterior and superior to the lower angle of the mandible where masseter attaches at the prominence of the muscle. It functions by dispelling wind, clearing obstructions in the meridian, relieving pain, and benefiting the jaw and teeth. It is indicated for swelling of the cheek, wry mouth (crooked jaw), toothache in the lower jaw, acute trismus, difficulty in opening the mouth. It is also a great point in the treatment of TMJ.