How to Massage a Migraine Away

Using Pressure Points for Headache Relief

While treatment for migraines typically involves medications and avoiding triggers, complementary treatments like migraine massage may be able to help lessen the intensity and frequency of migraine symptoms. You can give yourself a migraine massage by targeting pressure points to help relieve pain.

This article will explain what a migraine massage is and how to perform one on yourself. 

acupressure points on neck

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Reflexology for Headaches

Reflexology is a type of massage that involves applying pressure to specific pressure points in the hands and feet believed to be linked to other parts of the body. By applying pressure and massage to specific areas, practitioners of reflexology believe that associated body parts can become energized and rejuvenated.

Reflexology is a complementary therapy that aims to manage symptoms and is used to supplement other forms of medical treatment that more directly target underlying causes of medical conditions.

Reflexology is based on the theories that:

  • Body parts communicate with electromagnetic fields.
  • This communication can become blocked with illness.
  • Energy flow can be restored by opening a blocked pathway.
  • Lactic acid crystals that develop in the feet can be broken up to increase the flow of energy.

Sustained pressure, as well as massage in circular motions, are applied to certain pressure points to promote relaxation and reduce pain.

Minimal research suggests that reflexology may be able to reduce pain intensity, frequency of headache attacks, and duration of headache attacks in people suffering from migraines, although more standardized and generalized research is needed to make more definitive claims.

One in five women and one in 16 men are affected by migraines.

Pressure Points for Migraine Massage

There are many pressure points on the body that, when massaged, can ease migraine symptoms.

Hand: Union Valley

Union valley, also called Hegu, is a pressure point located on the top of the hand between the base of the thumb and index finger. It is believed that applying pressure to this point can help reduce anxiety and headaches. 

Face: Third Eye and Drilling Bamboo

The third eye, also called Yin Tang, is a pressure point located between the eyebrows in the middle of the forehead. Applying pressure to this point can help relieve tension in the head, face, and eyes.

Drilling bamboo, also called Zanzhu, refers to two pressure points located where the bridge of the nose joins the two brow bone ridges. Applying pressure to these points can help relieve headache pain from eye strain and sinus pressure. 

Ear: Ear Gate, Daith, and Ear Apex

The ear gate, also called Ermen, is a pressure point located at the upper area of the base of the ear that connects the ear to the head. Applying pressure to this point can help relieve ear and jaw pressure, which can help ease migraines and tension headaches.

The daith refers to a section of cartilage located above the ear canal opening. Applying pressure to this point, or ear piercing to the area, may help relieve migraines by altering stimulation of the trigeminal and vagus nerves that contribute to migraine pain.

The ear apex, also called Erjian, is located at the middle of the top of the earlobe. It is believed that applying pressure to this point can help relieve earaches, migraines, and tension headaches.

Neck and Shoulders: Gates of Consciousness and Shoulder Well

The gates of consciousness, also called Feng Chi, refer to two pressure points where the base of the skull joins the neck of the neck. It is believed that applying pressure to these points can help relieve migraines and neck tension. 

The shoulder well, also called Jian Jing, is a pressure point located at the top of each shoulder near the base of the neck within the upper trapezius muscles. It is believed that applying pressure to these points can help relieve stress, muscle tension, and headaches.

Foot: Great Rushing, Above Tears, and Moving Point

The great rushing, or great surge, also called Tai Chong, is a pressure point located on the top of the foot between the toe and the second toe. It is believed that applying pressure to this point can help relieve stress, which can consequently help decrease headaches. 

The above tears, also called Zulinqi, is a pressure point located on the top of the foot between the fourth and fifth toes near the outside edge of the foot. Applying pressure to this point can help reduce migraine frequency.

The moving point, or Xingjian, is a pressure point located within the webspace between the big toe and second toe. It is believed that applying pressure to this point can help improve liver function, clear the sinuses, and reduce headache pain.

Try Acupuncture

Acupuncture, a form of traditional Chinese medicine, uses the insertion of thin needles into various parts of the body to reduce pain and inflammation. It may also be used to help manage migraine symptoms. Rather than manual pressure and massage, acupuncture needles can be inserted into the aforementioned pressure points to achieve similar benefits. 


Migraines are a type of intense headache that causes head pain, throbbing, and pounding that interfere with daily activities. Other symptoms include nausea and sensitivity to light. Some people find relief through complementary treatments, like reflexology or migraine massage, along with traditional medication.

A Word From Verywell

While reflexology should not replace other forms of treatment for migraine relief, it may be used as an adjunct treatment option in combination with other methods to help manage symptoms. More formal and standardized research is needed, however, to support more concrete effects of reflexology for migraine relief.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What triggers migraines?

    Migraines are triggered by stress, hormones, inadequate sleep, caffeine and alcohol, certain foods and smells, loud noises, and bright lights.

  • How long do migraines last?

    Migraines can last anywhere from four hours to three days.

  • How does Botox help migraines?

    Injections of Botox, or botulinum toxin, into muscle help to reduce nerve signals that cause muscle tension and pain.

  • Where is Botox injected for migraines?

    Botox injections can be injected into some of the pressure points of the head and neck to decrease muscle tension and relieve migraine pain.

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Kobza W, Lizis P, Zieba HR. Effects of feet reflexology versus segmental massage in reducing pain and its intensity, frequency and duration of the attacks in females with migraine: a pilot study. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2017;37(2):214-219. DOI:10.1016/S0254-6272(17)30047-X

  3. American Migraine Foundation. What Is Migraine?

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  6. Cascio Rizzo A, Paolucci M, Altavilla R, Brunelli N, Assenza F, Altamura C, Vernieri F. Daith piercing in a case of chronic migraine: a possible vagal modulation. Front Neurol. 2017 Nov 27;8:624. doi:10.3389/fneur.2017.00624

  7. Mehta P, Dhapte V, Kadam S, Dhapte V. Contemporary acupressure therapy: Adroit cure for painless recovery of therapeutic ailmentsJ Tradit Complement Med. 2016;7(2):251-263.

  8. Allen J, Deng Y, Langland J. Treatment of chronic refractory migraine with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine: a case seriesJ Chin Med. 110:36.

  9. American Migraine Foundation. Acupuncture and migraine: Finding a combination that sticks.

  10. American Migraine Foundation. Top 10 migraine triggers and how to deal with them.

  11. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Botulinum toxin injectables for migraines.

By Kristen Gasnick, PT, DPT
Kristen Gasnick, PT, DPT, is a medical writer and a physical therapist at Holy Name Medical Center in New Jersey.