Muscle tension and back strain are common causes of neck pain. Worn joints and broken down cartilage can also be a factor. Neck pain usually centers on one location in your neck, but it can also be dispersed. This kind of pain can take the form of stiffness or spasms.

For centuries, people have been turning to reflexology and acupressure to relieve neck pain. Acupressure identifies points on your body that can be massaged and stimulated to relieve health conditions.

Treating neck pain with reflexology is still being evaluated for its clinical effectiveness, but anecdotal evidence suggests it works for some people. Keep reading to find out more about the pressure points that might relieve your neck pain.

Acupuncture has been extensively studied as a treatment for neck pain. While there is some evidence that acupuncture works for neck pain, acupressure is not universally accepted as a neck pain treatment. Researchers wonder, for example, if the needles from acupuncture stimulate chemicals in your body that provide pain relief. If that is indeed the case, stimulating pressure points with massage instead of needles wouldn’t provide the same pain relief.

But that’s not to say that acupressure should be ruled out as a holistic neck pain treatment. Stimulating pressure points may relieve neck pain and soothe aching muscles. According to several reviews of the scientific literature, the answer is that we just don’t know.

To try acupressure for neck pain relief, follow these steps:

  1. Relax and breathe in deeply. Be mindful to choose a comfortable and quiet setting to practice acupressure treatment.
  2. Use a firm, deep pressure to massage the pressure points you have identified to treat your neck pain. It’s best to rotate your fingers in a circular or up-and-down motion for three to four minutes at each point, focusing on one at a time. If you feel a sharp increase in pain anywhere on your body during the treatment, stop right away.
  3. Repeat the massage treatment throughout your day if you feel they are effective. There’s no limit to how many times per day you can practice acupressure.

Below is a list of pressure points for several different kinds of neck pain. Remember that in reflexology, the whole body is interconnected. That means that it’s not uncommon to stimulate one part of your body to activate or align another body part.

Jian Jing (GB21)

Jian Jing is in the muscles of your shoulder, about halfway between your neck and where your arms begin. This point has been used in successful acupuncture studies of headache and muscle tension. Jian Jing may also successfully treat the pain of a sore or stiff neck. Note that stimulating this point may induce labor, so don’t stimulate it to relieve neck pain when you are pregnant.

He Gu (L14)

The He Gu point is on the “web” fold of skin between your thumb and forefinger. Reflexologists claim that stimulating this point can relieve pain in many different parts of the body, including your neck. Note: If you are pregnant, avoid stimulating this point.

Wind Pool (Feng Chi/GB20)

Feng Chi is behind your earlobe, toward the top of your neck and the base of your skull. Reflexologists use this point to treat everything from fatigue to headache. Stimulating this pressure point may improve a stiff neck caused by sleeping in an uncomfortable position.

Zhong Zu (TE3)

The Zhong Zu point is located between the knuckles above your pinky and ring fingers. This pressure point may stimulate different parts of your brain when it’s activated, promoting circulation and tension release. Stimulate this point to relieve neck pain that’s caused by tension or stress.

Heaven’s Pillar

This point is found on either side of your neck, at the base of your skull and about two inches away from the top of where your backbone begins. (It’s right above your shoulders.) Stimulating this point may release congestion and swollen lymph nodes that can cause a sore neck.

Acupressure and reflexology can complement other effective neck pain relief home remedies, like a warm compress, stretch exercises, and over-the-counter pain relief drugs. The good news is that with rest and self-care, most neck pain does resolve on its own within a day or two.

Recurring neck pain could indicate an issue with your sleeping arrangements or the amount of stress in your life, or it could be a result of doing exercises incorrectly. Keep an eye on any pain you experience and contact your doctor if it flares up consistently or gets worse.

If you are pregnant and experiencing a sore neck, speak to your doctor about treatment options before trying acupressure on yourself.

If your neck pain is the result of an injury or car accident, don’t try to treat it yourself with reflexology or another remedy. Make sure to get documentation and care from a physician and follow up on any testing or physical therapy that is recommended.