Earaches and headaches are sometimes caused by sinus inflammation. Pressure that builds up in your sinus cavities can make your ears feel “stuffed up” or cause painful throbbing around your temples and behind your ears. For centuries, acupressure and massage have been used as a remedy for pain and pressure in your ears and head.

Acupressure is an alternative medicine technique based on certain “energy points” on your body. There’s evidence to suggest that acupressure can be used to treat health conditions of the sinus area and ear canal. The pressure points on your ear are called the “auricular points.”

Acupressure involves putting pressure on the same areas where an acupuncture needle would be inserted. This would indicate that pressure points on parts of your body that aren’t in pain can treat and relieve the symptoms of headaches and earaches. Keep reading to find out what we know about acupressure and holistic medicine.

The evidence we have to support acupressure as a headache treatment is mostly anecdotal. There is some evidence that massage therapy, which stimulates pressure points as well as circulation, can reduce head pain and promote sinus drainage. A review of the literature suggests that drainage of the lymph nodes on the side of your neck can be performed manually, and may lead to head and ear pain relief.

If your pain is related to stress, allergies, or sinus congestion, treatment with acupressure is fairly low risk and might be worth a try.

If you would like to try acupressure to treat a headache or earache, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you are in a relaxed and quiet setting, and in a comfortable position. Breathe in deeply for several breaths before beginning your treatment.
  2. Using a firm, deep pressure, massage the pressure points you have identified on your body. Rotate your fingers in a circular or up-and-down motion for several minutes at each point, focusing on one at a time.
  3. Repeat the massage treatment two or three times during the day.

Below is a list of pressure points, as well as a list of conditions each claims to treat.

Forehead (‘third eye’)

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Between your eyebrows and just above the bridge of your nose is a point sometimes referred to as the “third eye.” Acupressure at this point could promote sinus drainage and relieve tension in your cheeks, jaw, and forehead muscles. Use this pressure point to treat the following aches caused by infection or nasal congestion:

Temple

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When you have a headache, rubbing your temples might seem like an automatic response. According to acupressure practices, massaging the pressure points on your temples can promote blood circulation and help with headache symptoms. Try this remedy if you have a migraine, light sensitivity, or a headache caused by fatigue.

Base of the skull (‘wind mansion’)

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This popular massage point is anecdotally effective to increase circulation and improve relaxation. If you have a headache caused by stress or fatigue, this could help relieve your symptoms. This pressure point is sometimes called “wind mansion,” and can be found at the “hollow” or “dip” at the base of your skull.

Wind screen

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This point can be found right behind your earlobe. Stimulating this point with acupressure massage may relieve ears that feel “stuffed,” as well as help to relieve tinnitus and migraine.

Ear-gate

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This pressure point is located directly in front of where your earlobe begins. Acupressure on this point is used to relieve pressure that builds up around your jaw and in your ears. This could make it effective in treating tinnitus, ear infections, earache, tension headache, and migraine.

Daith

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This point is located on the top part of the innermost cartilage of your outer ear. Some people find this particular pressure point to be so effective at treating migraine that they get a piercing at the daith to stimulate it. Stimulate this pressure point to relieve migraine headaches as well as tension and cluster headache.

Hairline curve

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This point is located on the side of your head, about 2 inches above the top of your ear. A 2006 study suggested that stimulating this point was particularly effective for treating tinnitus.

Heaven’s pillar

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These two pressure points are located on either side of your neck, about 2 inches below where your skull begins. You can stimulate these pressure points at the same time or choose to focus only on the side of your head where you are having pain. Stimulating heaven’s pillar points could relieve sinus pain, ease tension, and help with an earache or migraine.

Ear apex

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The results of a 2011 study on acupuncture suggested that “auricular” pressure point stimulation was an effective migraine treatment. The ear apex, located on the cartilage at the place where your ear comes to its highest point, is an auricular pressure point popular in treatments for earache, migraine, and tension headache.

Between thumb and forefinger on hand (‘union valley’)

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This pressure point is located on the “webbing” between your thumb and forefinger. Though it may seem strange to treat a headache or earache using a pressure point on your hand, this holistic remedy is quite popular and well-known. People use acupressure on this point to treat different types of pain, including headaches, nausea, dizziness, and gastrointestinal issues.

We can’t know for sure if acupressure works to stop headaches or relieve pressure in your ears. But there’s no evidence to suggest that trying these holistic remedies could be harmful, so it’s worth a try. Though more research is needed, attention to pressure points might help drain the sinuses and relieve discomfort.

Speak to your doctor if you can’t find relief from your headaches and earaches after several days. There are times when these symptoms can indicate a more serious health condition.