Whereas neck pain and headaches are two extremely common disorders that most people are familiar with, they are also health conditions that are not fully understood as far as Western medicine is concerned. In traditional Chinese medicine, however, the treatment for these symptoms is based on each one’s specific health condition, usually determined by a thorough diagnosis. Despite that, according to scientific research, some acupressure points for neck pain and headaches are proven to be efficient. In addition, anyone can use them from the comfort of their home.
TCM Therapeutic Approach
Traditional Chinese medicine possesses several tools to treat neck pain and headache. One of them is, of course, the stimulation of the body’s Qi through acupuncture which can be done using pressure as well. In the treatment with the meridian system, there are some facial acupuncture points for headaches and neck pain as well as distal and local points that make it very convenient to opt for acupressure since inserting needles on the face and other delicate areas of the body can be painful and should only be done by a professional.
Another therapy from traditional Chinese medicine that is broadly used in the hospitals in China, and on a smaller scale in the West by TCM practitioners in clinics is Tuina. Tuina is a type of therapeutic massage from which osteopathy was taken. It includes many different techniques to stimulate the skin, deep-tissues, move articulations, align the skeleton, stimulate the inner organs and promote the flow of Qi and blood in the body.
The third most-applied therapy for the treatment of neck pain and headache is known in the West as moxibustion or moxa. Moxa consists of applying heat to the acupressure points for neck pain and headaches, as well as to the tense areas around those with the use of a combination of herbs in combustion. The most common herb used to this end is dried artemisia leaf, whose essential oils contain warming properties. This treatment is very efficient in cases of stiffness and pain since heat is very therapeutic and helps to remove contracture easily and painlessly.
Can Acupressure Help Neck Pain?
A few scientific studies have looked at the effective treatment with acupuncture for headaches and neck pain, eye pressure, sinus pressure, stiff neck, circular pressure, severe headaches, muscle pain, and chronic headaches, among other types of tension-type headaches.
According to a literature study based on data mining technology by Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine found on the NCBI web, the prescription of Fengchi (GB20), Baihui (GV20), Taiyang (EX-HN5), Hegu (LI4), and Taichong (LR3) might be relatively reasonable in clinical practices in the treatment of tension-type headaches with acupuncture.
In another scientific systematic review carried out by Elsevier Integrative Medicine Research, seventeen types of 30 proximal acupuncture points were used as basic acupuncture points in the treatment of neck pain syndrome, among them GB20 was most frequently used (4 times), GB21 was used 3 times, and SI15, ST12, BL11, TE16, LI17, SI11, BL10, and GV16 were used twice each. SI14, GV14, LI18, GB12, SI16, BL12, and GB6 were used once each. Nine types of 14 distal acupuncture points were used as basic acupuncture points.
Acupressure Points For Neck Pain And Headaches
Did you know that our heads weigh about 10% of our body weight? The neck supports the heavy head. Therefore, it can be said that the neck is a part of the body that is easily tense and easily loaded. Even when the posture is tilted forward due to the use of a smartphone or desk work, a heavy burden is placed on the neck. When the muscles around the neck become tense and stiff, blood flow in the muscles deteriorates, and blood flow to the head connected to the neck is also adversely affected. This causes tension-type headaches.
The key to preventing and improving tension-type headaches is to relieve tension in the muscles around the neck and improve blood circulation. However, in the case of migraine, the pain increases when blood circulation is promoted, so it is limited to tension-type headaches. You can use the following acupressure points for headaches and neck pain:
Acupoint: GB-4 (Other Names: Gallbladder-4/Han Yan/Jaw Serenity)
Hanyan, as this point is also called, can be translated as “jaw serenity”. You can find this acupoint within the hairline of the temporal region on both sides of the head.
GB-4 is connected to the Gallbladder in traditional Chinese medicine Zangfu theory. This point is useful in cases of migraine headache, neck pain, vertigo, lockjaw, headache with heat in the body, and seizures, among other clinical uses.
Acupoint: GV-20 (Other Names: The Governing Vessel-20/Bai Hui/Hundred Convergence)
Baihui can be found on the midline of the head by drawing a straight line from both ears up. This acupoint is a very important one since it is the meeting point of the Yang meridians.
GV-20 benefits the brain and the sense-organs, lifts the Spirit, and helps to regulate the Qi of the Liver. Since the Live in TCM is responsible for the flow of Qi in the body, any stagnation in its dynamics can cause problems in the Qi flow in the entire body. GV-20 stabilizes the ascending Yang, promoting the proper functioning of the Yin/Yang balance and benefitting the upper part of the body.
This point is also used in acupressure brain inflammation.
Acupoint: GB-20 (Other Names: Gallbladder-20/Feng Chi/Wind Pool)
Fengchi is the most important acupressure point to treat headaches and dizziness, no matter the cause. You can locate GB-20 close to the base of the skull, on the hollow area by the end of the occipital bone on both sides of the beginning of the cervical spine.
GB-20 is a major acupuncture point with many uses and is very efficient in the treatment of headaches. It also serves to alleviate pain in the neck, back pain, migraines, and heaviness of the head, among many more clinical uses.
GB-20 is featured in our list of acupressure points for relaxation as well.
Acupoint: GB-21 (Other Names: Gallbladder-21/Jian Jing/Shoulder Well)
A dent in the back of the neck, almost in the center of the line connecting the bones that protrude when the head is tilted forward to the tip of the shoulder.
Jianjing is effective for stiffness in the shoulders and neck and improves blood circulation throughout the body, so it is also effective for poor circulation and high blood pressure.
GB-21 can be found in our article about the heavenly pillar acupressure point.
Acupoint: Bl-10 (Other Names: Urinary Bladder-10/Tian Zhu/Celestial Pillar)
Indentations around the hairline on both sides of the upper part of the neck muscles. It is said to be a pressure point for headaches, and when pressed, the eyes and head are refreshed. Tianzhu is effective against stress, autonomic imbalance, and general fatigue.
BL-10 is included in the article on pressure points in the neck. When pressing the acupuncture points, exhale and slowly press for about 10 seconds, then slowly release your finger, then repeat this several times.
Self-treatment With Acupressure
Before you start your self-acupressure routine, you need to prepare the place where you will do the treatment. Pick a comfortable place, relax and take a few good breaths before you start the actual protocol. When you feel settled and in a state of relaxation, proceed to the next step.
The next step is to locate the acupressure points for neck pain and headaches. In this part, it’s important that you really scrutinize the area where the point is located, sensing for spots where it feels like a depression, a tenderness, or some sensation that might be a hint of where the point is located in your body.
After you have found the exact point, then proceed with the stimulation and enjoy yourself while you apply the treatment, paying attention to the movements and intensity of the pressure while you do it.