Here's how to stop a headache or migraine in its tracks.
- By Jerry V. Teplitz, JD, Ph.D.
- Oct 01, 2004
THE thumping in your head just won't go away. Neither will your 5 p.m.
deadline. What can you do? Let's face it: Headaches and the business world go
hand in hand. In fact, USA Today estimates 50 million Americans
experience some form of severe headache each year for which they will seek
medical attention. Headaches are one of the most common causes of workplace
absenteeism, and it's easy to understand why. Concentrating on your work is
tough when your head is throbbing.
Several types of headaches exist. One of the most debilitating is a migraine,
which affects almost half of all headache sufferers--mostly women. A migraine
differs from a "regular" headache in that it is a throbbing ache on one side of
the head, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and visual disturbances.
Tension headaches cause a steady ache in back of the head and along both sides
of the neck. Cluster headaches are recurring headaches that cause severe pain in
one eye. These headaches occur almost exclusively in men who smoke or drink
A number of factors trigger headaches. In fact, there are 129 known causes
for them. Stress, poor posture, food additives, and indulging in chocolate and
wine can cause headaches. Even relationships can cause headaches and migraines.
"He/she gives me a headache" isn't just a figure of speech. The weather can also
be a factor. Specific weather conditions such as cold, dry air generate just
over half of all migraine headaches. Finally, even the cool white florescent
lighting you are under at work can give you a headache.
When it comes to headaches, most people are looking for a quick fix. Usually
that comes in the form of an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever. So most
people pop some pills and hope for the best. But some pills may take a long time
to work, and some may make you drowsy. Unfortunately, when headache remedies
don't work after the first dose, many people will try another. But you can't pop
medicines in your mouth like candy. The fact is that you can overdose on OTC
medications. Just because you can walk into any pharmacy or grocery store and
buy them doesn't mean they're safe. Taking more than the recommended dosage can
be dangerous. Excessive amounts of these drugs can hurt the intestinal tract,
kidney, and liver. In fact, 106,000 Americans die each year from the side
effects of legitimate drugs prescribed by their doctor.
Additionally, OTC medications for migraines can cause headaches when used in
excess. These are called "rebound" headaches, which can occur if you grow
dependent on painkillers. When the last dose wears off, your body cries out for
more by giving you another headache.
There are many types of treatments for migraines and the other types of
headaches. This article will focus on the common headache and what can be done
to relieve it, drug-free. The answer is Shiatsu, an old Japanese finger pressure
technique. It is a much more safe and effective treatment than any medication
you can find on a store shelf. You don't even have to leave your desk. It just
takes 90 seconds, and it will get you immediately back to peak
Shiatsu is a 5,000-year-old Japanese healing
technique that involves application of pressure to certain points on your body.
Blockages in your internal flow are reflected externally as discomfort,
soreness, stress, insomnia, fatigue, and many other symptoms, including
headaches. Shiatsu massage is done by applying a hard steady pressure to the
point on which you are pressing. Regular Shiatsu massage therapy helps
relaxation, improves circulation, and strengthens the immune system. Shiatsu
works very well on headaches, quickly and without side effects. Besides the
headache treatment you will be learning below, these are treatments that stop
migraines in five minutes, as well as treatments for sinus colds, stiff neck,
and sore shoulders.
Following are step-by-step instructions on how to perform Shiatsu to
eliminate common headaches.
These instructions are written for doing the treatment on
yourself. The instructions for doing it on someone else vary slightly. Sit in
your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Apply a hard, direct, and
consistent pressure at each point for three seconds. If you feel pain, stop
pressing that point immediately and move on to the next point. During your next
sequence, you may be able to tolerate more pressure at that same pain spot by
pressing softer at first and then gradually pressing harder. In many cases, the
pain will have disappeared. If the headache persists after following these
treatments, consult your physician.
Do each step in the listed sequence:
1. Imagine you parted your hair in the middle. This is the line you will be
following. Start pressing at the middle of the forehead where the hairline
begins. Apply a hard pressure with your thumb. Continue moving your thumb back
(at 1-inch intervals) following the part and applying a hard pressure. Each
point is an inch apart; press your thumbs toward each other. Your final point
will be the hollow at the base of the skull where the neck and spine meet. It's
called the medulla oblongata.
2. At the crown or highest point of your head, put your thumbs next to each
other and apply pressure. Follow an imaginary line down from the crown to the
temples, right in front of your ears. Finish by pressing three seconds at your
3. With your thumbs, find the back middle of the earlobe on both sides of
your head and move in about 1 1/2 to 2 inches toward the back center of your
head, where the medulla oblongata is located. Press toward the front of your
body for three seconds. Move both thumbs halfway in toward the medulla and press
your thumbs on both sides toward the front of your body. Now, press one thumb in
4. Drop straight down a half-inch from the medulla and place a thumb on each
side of the spinal column. Pressing toward the front of the body, drop down an
inch each time until you come to where the base of the neck and shoulders
Three times should be enough to get rid of the headache on yourself. If not,
do it once more. If your thumb gets tired from applying the hard pressure, place
your middle finger on top of your index finger and press with both fingers. This
will simulate the same level of pressure as you receive from just using your
While occasional headaches are unavoidable for most people, they don't need
to grind your productivity to a halt and ruin your day or evening. In the time
it would take you to find some pain relievers and a drink of water, you could be
done with your Shiatsu treatment and back to work. So the next time a headache
strikes, don't rummage in your desk for some aspirin. Skip the pills and enjoy
the relaxation and pain relief of Shiatsu.
This article originally appeared in the October 2004 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.