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5 Massages You Can Do To Get Rid Of A Hypertension Headache

Experiencing frequent headaches? They could be a secondary symptom of high blood pressure. Explore non-medical relief through massage therapy with our guide to easing the pain.

5 massages you can do to get rid of a hypertension headache

A hypertension headache is a common complaint among people with high blood pressure. Studies show there is a link between high blood pressure and headaches. However, for most people with high blood pressure, also called hypertension, headaches are a secondary symptom.

Luckily, there are many ways to help alleviate the pain of a hypertension headache that don’t involve medications, including massage therapy. Read on to learn more about how to use massage therapy to ease throbbing pain in the head.

Best Massages For A Hypertension Headache

A woman receiving a head massage for her headache
Massage therapy can provide relief for your hypertension headache.

As confirmed by several studies, massages can provide relief to hypertensive patients experiencing headaches and vertigo as well as chronic pain in the neck, shoulders, and back.

This is due to the relaxing effect of massages, which improves blood flow throughout the body, resulting in an overall decrease in blood pressure for pre-hypertension and hypertension.

1. Acupoint massage

Acupressure is a massage therapy that involves applying pressure to specific points around the body to stimulate energy flow and alleviate pain and other ailments.

A study involving acupressure versus medication for chronic headache sufferers has found that acupressure trigger points work better than muscle relaxants to reduce chronic headaches.

Generally, you can use your fingertips or a device to apply pressure at a certain acupoint. For headache relief, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Physician Ng Qing Xiang recommends the acupoints He Gu (LI4) and Feng Chi (GB 20).

2. Tuina

Research has shown that tuina, also known as Chinese manual massage can help with treating different kinds of headaches, not just hypertension headaches, including tension headaches and migraines.

Tuina uses focused movements, such as pushing, rolling, kneading, rubbing, and grasping to promote the flow of qi (vital life energy) and release stress in muscles.

3. Gua sha

Gua sha or scraping massage uses a smooth-edged tool to gently scrape different areas of the body to free Stagnant Qi and promote circulation.

It helps relieve a wide range of health conditions, including headaches attributed to arterial hypertension. They include tightness and pain in the shoulders, back, and legs, as well as headaches, anxiety, and insomnia.

4. Swedish scalp massage

Swedish scalp massage is a relaxing therapy that effectively relieves headaches. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, gentle massages along the scalp can reduce the intensity of tension and pain in the head. Additionally, it can help loosen up a stiff neck and shoulders.

5. Deep tissue massage

Scientists have found that applying deep-tissue massage to the head can alleviate headaches. This type of massage utilizes deep, gliding motions and firm pressure using the knuckles of thumbs on specific areas of the head to release tension or pain. 

Take note that the massages highlighted above are only suitable for mild and generic cases of headaches. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms like a rapidly worsening headache or headaches that are accompanied by a fever, weakness, numbness, visual symptoms, or confusion.

How To Prevent A Hypertension Headache

As high blood pressure and headaches are merely a secondary symptom, massages only provide relief and do not address the primary cause. Therefore, it’s important to manage your hypertension to keep its symptoms under control.

Dietary and lifestyle changes

An image of low sodium foods found in the DASH diet
Eating a diet that contains low-sodium foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, can help manage hypertension headaches.

Apart from taking hypertension medicines prescribed by your doctor, you should also pay attention to your diet and lifestyle. The World Health Organization (WHO) offers a few useful tips:  

Eastern remedies

TCM is also an excellent way to manage hypertension and, thus, hypertension headaches as well. For people who have high blood pressure, an individual’s body constitution and accompanying symptoms and ailments are addressed through herbal remedies and food intake.

A TCM practitioner may also suggest improving daily lifestyle habits. Examples include exercising regularly, getting ample sleep and rest, and reducing sodium intake. 

Food that can help in managing hypertension include:

  • Black fungus
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Mushroom
  • Spinach
  • Black beans
  • Almonds
  • Fresh sunflower seeds
  • Tomato
  • Brown rice
  • Bananas

Additionally, essence of chicken can help with replenishing blood and qi. Make sure you consume those that do not contain salt, artificial flavoring, or caramel coloring. 

Chu I Ta, Chief TCM Physician from the Real Health Medical clinic in Singapore, recommends the following teas for lowering your blood pressure

  • Chrysanthemum tea: Restores balance to the liver, nourishes the eyes, clears heat, and detoxes the body. 
  • Hawthorn tea: Has the effect of vasodilation while reducing blood pressure and cholesterol level. 
  • Lotus leaf tea: Clears heat, cools blood, eases bleeding, and offers a vasodilation effect. 
  • Sophora japonica tea: Clears excessive heat fire in the liver and brightens the eyes. 
  • Polygonum multiflorum tea: Tonifies the liver and kidney, reduces cholesterol, and strengthens the tendons and bones. 

Consult a certified TCM physician before consuming these teas or using any herbal ingredients. Your physician may also recommend additional ingredients to add to each tea for specific purposes.

“Diet aside, acupuncture, acupressure, and scraping techniques can help alleviate high blood pressure symptoms, including hypertensive headache,” Physician Chu adds. The acupressure points for hypertension include Qu Chi (LU11) and Tai Chong (LR3).

Talk To Your Doctor About Hypertension Headache Pain

Headaches are one of the secondary symptoms of hypertension or high blood pressure. Along with medication, you can consider massage therapy to help relieve pain in the head and reduce your blood pressure.

If the headache becomes severe, seek medical attention as this may be a sign of a hypertensive crisis.

Always discuss your treatment options with your healthcare provider and consult a TCM physician on the right kind of massage for your condition.

References

  1. Journal of Human Hypertension. 2014. Massage therapy for essential hypertension: a systematic review. 
  2. Patient’s Education MyHEALTH. 2016. Hypertension and Headache.   
  3. Current Pain and Headache Reports. 2019. The Hypertensive Headache: a Review.  
  4. National Library of Medicine. 2021. The effectiveness and safety of Tuina for tension-type headache: A systematic review and meta-analysis.  
  5. Cleveland Clinic. 2021. Why Gua Sha Might Be Good For You.  
  6. American Massage Therapy Association. 2018. Massage and Headache Relief.  
  7. Moyer Total Wellness. 2021. Massage for Tension Headaches.  

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