How Acupressure May Ease Migraine-Related Fatigue

While more research is needed, this holistic therapy is a good start

Woman having an acupressure treatment done

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Individuals who suffer from migraines also tend to report fatigue, either as a trigger or as a symptom of their migraine attacks. Unfortunately, migraine-related fatigue can negatively impact a person's mood, quality of life, and ability to carry on with daily tasks.

To ease this debilitating symptom, experts have begun looking into various treatment options—and one such potentially promising therapy is acupressure.

What Is Acupressure?

Acupressure is an ancient, healing, Chinese therapy derived from acupuncture that entails applying pressure with your fingertips to specific parts of your body in order to improve blood flow and reduce muscle tension.

Traditionally, acupressure has been used to soothe headache or migraine pain, by applying pressure to sites (called acupoints) on the face, head, neck, or to the muscle located between the thumb and index finger.

Besides headache pain, though, acupressure may also be used to ease other migraine symptoms. For example, one study found that acupressure in the form of Sea-Bands (a wristband) reduces migraine-related nausea.

Research suggests too that fatigue, which is most commonly felt during the postdrome phase (often referred to as the "hangover phase") of a migraine attack, may be treated with acupressure.

Acupressure on Reducing Fatigue in Migraine

In a study of 76 participants who suffer from migraine without aura, half of the participants were randomly assigned to undergo acupressure and the other half were assigned to sham (placebo) acupressure. The participants were not told whether they were undergoing "real" acupressure versus "sham" acupressure.

The participants were all trained to apply acupressure on various "acupoints" three times a week at bedtime for four weeks.

Results

Prior to and at the end of the study, the participants completed the Fatigue Severity Scale, which is a short questionnaire that asks a person to rate their severity of fatigue based on nine statements (e.g., "Fatigue interferes with my physical functioning.")

Investigators found that the decrease in fatigue severity in the acupressure group was significantly greater than the decrease in the sham acupressure group.

Conclusion

This study suggests that using acupressure may help alleviate migraine-related fatigue.

Limitations

Of course, there are a couple of things to keep in mind regarding the use of acupressure based on the above study.

First, this study is very small—more research is needed to more definitively determine the positive effect of acupressure.

Secondly, while acupressure is generally harmless, it's important to not apply pressure to areas of your skin that are red, swollen, cut, wounded, or bruised.

Last but not least, be sure to speak with your doctor about your fatigue. While your fatigue may be related to your migraine attacks, there are numerous other causes for fatigue, such as depression, sleep disorders, anemia, thyroid disease, and side effects of various medications.

Bottom Line

It's important to get to the bottom of the "why" behind your fatigue before assuming its related to your migraines and embarking on a treatment plan.

A Word From Verywell

At the end of the day, it's reasonable to consider acupressure as a complementary therapy for your migraine care. Acupressure is non-invasive, straightforward, effective (although more research is desirable) and can be self-administered or administered by an acupressure therapist.

Moreover, even if acupressure does not necessarily address your pain or fatigue, it may provide other health benefits, like relaxation or stress reduction.

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Article Sources

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  2. Hsieh LL, Liou HH, Lee LH, Chen TH, Yen AM. Effect of acupressure and trigger points in treating headache: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Chin Med. 2010;38(1):1-14. doi:10.1142/S0192415X10007634

  3. Allais G, Rolando S, Gabellari IC, et al. Acupressure in the control of migraine-associated nausea. Neurol Sci. 2012 May;33(Suppl 1):207-10. doi:10.1007/s10072-012-1069-y

  4. Vagharseyyedin SA, Salmabadi M, BahramiTaghanaki H, Riyasi H. The impact of self-administered acupressure on sleep quality and fatigue among patients with migraine: A randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 May;35:374-80. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.10.011

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