Sinus Pressure Points: Locations, Techniques, Tips

Sinus Pressure Points: Locations, Techniques, Tips


Sinus pressure happens when there’s painful inflammation, fluid buildup, or congestion in open space behind the face. Depending on the underlying cause, you may find relief by trying self-acupressure. This complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practice focuses on applying pressure with your fingertips on specific parts of the face and body, or pressure points.

Acupressure works similarly to acupuncture. Some experts believe stimulating certain pressure points may help encourage symptom relief for several conditions—including sinus pressure.

While more extensive research is needed, available evidence on the practice of acupressure suggests that it can be an effective added therapy for relieving pain and other symptoms. Plus, it’s relatively simple to try at home.

The manual stimulation of pressure points, also known as acupressure, has long been a therapy in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It involves applying pressure to certain locations on the face, neck, hands, and more.

TCM practitioners have identified hundreds of “acupoints” on the body that are thought to relate to specific bodily regions or health conditions. According to TCM, putting pressure on these points can help regulate the flow of energy throughout the body and may adjust pain messages sent by nerves to the brain—resulting in reported healing or symptom relief.

Research suggests that the stimulation of multiple pressure points on the face, head, and hands may correspond to relieving sinus pressure. Some of these pressure points include:

  • Large Intestine 20 (LI20): This pressure point is located on either side of the nostrils and may help with sinus inflammation and nasal congestion.
  • Bladder 2 (BL2): Found between the bridge of the nose and the inner portion of the eyelid just below the eyebrow, this point might be useful for sinus congestion and pressure around the eye area.
  • Governor Vessel 24.5 (GV24.5 or Yintang): This pressure point is situated in the center of the forehead between the eyebrows near the third eye area. It may help drain a stuffy nose while relieving sinus pressure.
  • Small Intestine 18 (SI18): Corresponding to points on either side of the nose below the cheekbones, this could reduce inflamed sinuses and relieve a runny nose.
  • Taiyang (EX-HN5): This point is placed at your temples and might be helpful for relieving headaches related to sinus pressure.
  • San Jiao 21 (SJ21): Located at the point where the temple meets the ear, SJ21 is potentially beneficial for facial and ear pressure and pain.
  • Gallbladder 20 (GB20): Situated in the grooves where the back of the neck meets the back of the head, this point might help relieve sinus pressure-related headaches.
  • Large Intestine 4 (LI4): Found on the back of the hand between the index finger and thumb, LI4 could relieve sinus pain, headaches, and facial tension.

In one pilot study, a small group of adults with acute rhinosinusitis (short-term sinus inflammation) performed daily self-acupressure for eight weeks to help remove sinus drainage and reduce sinus pressure. The group, which also utilized other complementary lifestyle therapies, reported improved symptoms at the end of the study period.

A licensed therapist can perform a full acupressure session using their hands and potentially a variety of specialized blunt tools or instruments. However, if you’d like to try self-acupressure, you can follow a few steps to try out the manual self-manipulation of sinus pressure points at home.

This technique involves applying gentle to firm pressure to a given point for a few minutes at a time over a period of time. The exact pressure points you aim to press on are up to you, but you may generally consider the following tips:

  • Use your index fingers or thumbs to apply pressure to a given point
  • Massage with pressure in a circular motion for about 5 seconds at a time
  • Consider alternating between circular motions and light pulsing or constant pressure
  • Focus on one hand or one side of the face at a time before switching to the other side
  • Repeat as needed, up to several times per day

Before a session, make sure to hydrate and eat a light snack to avoid dizziness. Experts also recommend avoiding alcohol or caffeine before starting.

More Tips For Sinus Pressure Relief

Acupressure isn’t the only remedy for sinus pressure relief. There are several other home remedies to help ease symptoms, such as the following:

  • Place warm compresses over the sinus area
  • Use a saline nasal spray
  • Inhale steam from a warm shower
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids
  • Get enough rest
  • Prop yourself up with an extra pillow while sleeping

You may also consider trying over-the-counter (OTC) cold and allergy medications, like:

  • Decongestant nasal sprays like Afrin (oxymetazoline) for short-term sinus pressure relief
  • Nasal steroid sprays like Flonase (fluticasone) for allergy-related sinus pressure
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Aleve (naproxen) or Motrin (Ibuprofen) for pain relief
  • Antihistamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) to relieve sinus pressure caused by allergies

For a stubborn or severe case of bacterial sinusitis, a healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics to fight the sinus infection and help relieve pressure.

Chronic or recurring cases of sinusitis that happen more than four times a year may require surgery to open up the nasal passages. Your healthcare provider may also recommend surgery to correct structural abnormalities like a deviated septum or nasal polyps.

Acupressure is generally considered to be a safe and non-invasive therapy. It doesn’t involve needles, like acupuncture, and you can perform it on yourself at home.

When applying pressure to your face, use gentle to firm pressure. Pressure that’s too hard may cause bruising or other injury. Also, avoid any areas with open sores or damaged skin.

Massaging your sinus pressure points may result in some side effects, such as dizziness, headache, and heart palpitations. However, these side effects are not often reported in available studies. It’s also possible to experience some tenderness or mild discomfort from this technique.

If you’re considering trying self-acupressure for sinus congestion, discuss the potential risks and benefits of the practice with a healthcare provider. People who are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a health condition like heart disease or diabetes, or have had a recent injury or bone fracture should seek clearance from a healthcare provider before continuing with any type of acupressure.

Illnesses that commonly cause sinus pressure—like a sinus infection or cold—typically resolve on their own within 10 days. However, some cases of sinus pressure may require medical treatment.

Consider visiting a healthcare provider if you’ve been trying self-acupressure and other at-home therapies and experience:

  • Symptoms lasting longer than 10-14 days
  • Severe headache that doesn’t respond to OTC pain relievers
  • High fever
  • Changes in vision
  • Small growths in your nose (polyps)

Uncomfortable sinus pressure may be relieved by performing self-acupressure—or applying pressure to certain body points that holistic experts believe correspond to the sinuses. This therapy may benefit some people when used with other at-home and OTC remedies, like placing a warm compress on the face, staying hydrated, using a nasal spray, and taking decongestants.

Check with a healthcare provider if these treatments do not seem to be draining sinus pressure or alleviating your symptoms after roughly 10 days.

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