The Most Famous Accupressure Point: What Does It Really Do?

That stop between your thumb and forefinger – yes, that point, Large Intestine point #4, is great for headaches and a number of other ailments, many of which strike athletes in particular.

Ask anyone to locate the one acupressure point that they’re aware of and inevitably they will show you the web between their thumb and forefinger and proudly state that location is perfect to push on to get rid of a headache.

Yes, that point, Large Intestine point #4, is great for headaches, as well as number of other ailments, many of which strike athletes in particular.

First and foremost, let’s locate the point accurately. The actual anatomic description of location reads as follows, “On the dorsum of the hand, between the first and second metacarpal bones, approximately in the middle of the second metacarpal bone on the radial side.”

In layperson speak; the best way to find the “actual” point location is to find where your thumb and pointer finger meet towards the base of your wrist. Once you’ve located that area, slide your finger along the bone of your pointer finger about a half an inch towards the tip and then come out off of that bone towards your thumb. (Another easy way to find the exact location of is to squeeze your thumb into your index finger and the top of the “lump” created by the web is your spot.)

The point itself is about as big as a nickel so don’t feel that you need to be pinpoint accurate in finding it. You can see in the photos where the point lies.

In Peter Deadman’s Manual of Acupuncture, the California State Board’s designated acupuncture book, each individual acupuncture point is described and outlined for roughly one page. Large Intestine – 4, or “Hegu” as the point is called in Chinese – has four whole pages allocated to it due the vast number of ailments that it can be used with.

First and foremost, this point is prescribed for any issue related to the head and face, including:

  • Headaches
  • Sinus Infections
  • Toothache
  • Redness and swelling of the eyes
  • Swelling or puffiness in the face

Secondly, and how I most use this point in practice, is for any pain condition in the body. If I have a patient with knee pain, then I’ll use LI-4 conjunction with other points around the knee. The same thing will happen with pain anywhere else in the body, as someone that sees primarily athletes, I use this point with almost every treatment.

Although you’re not going to be inserting needles into yourselves, this point is still highly effective with acupressure as well. Using your thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand, squeeze this area until you feel a mild discomfort. Continue to hold that pressure for 20 – 30 seconds and then release. Repeat as often as necessary throughout the day until you feel that you have evoked a change in the condition from which you are suffering. This is a fantastic combination to add to your ice, heat and stretching regimen, especially when dealing with an injury or ailment.

The only caution that comes with the point is that it is contra-indicated in pregnancy due to its ability to promote labor.