The Differences Between Acupressure and Acupuncture

There are folks who tend to confuse acupressure with acupuncture and vice versa. These are two different methods of healing despite the fact that both are based on the belief that a human body with a balanced flow of energy is a healthy and well-functioning body. When an acupoint or an energy channel is stimulated, it leads to the restoration of balance in the body and the proper unimpeded flow of blood and energy. Western medicine views both acupressure and acupuncture as pseudoscience because they are not backed by scientific evidence to prove their effectiveness in alleviating and healing certain conditions. Some scientists claim that they only produce a placebo effect on patients. Others think that the stimulation generated by the needles or hands releases natural painkilling chemicals such as endorphins that relieves pain and aches.


This alternative healing modality has its roots in ancient China and is actually more ancient than acupuncture. It utilizes acupoints and meridians in the body to maintain or restore balanced flow of energy. The stimulation is done manually (by hands) and is similar to massage. Anyone can perform acupressure. You can apply this therapy on yourself without any negative consequences. All you need to do know is what parts of the body the meridians are attached to and where the meridians are and you can apply pressure on them to get feel relief from your ailment. This treatment is different from acupuncture since acupressure can only stimulate one or two points during the procedure while acupuncture can activate several energy channels in one time.


Acupuncture dates back thousands of years also in ancient China. It is a medical practice the uses thin, disposable, sterile needles to assist the body in its self-healing processes. Acupuncture needles are solid hair-thin needles different from those used by nurses and doctors to inject chemicals into the body or draw out blood which is why they do not cause discomfort or pain. The needles reach a meridian and release it from blockages. During an acupuncture procedure the person may only feel a slight twitch on the site where a needle is inserted. These days, acupuncture has been widely studied and modified to guarantee safety of the practice. It should only be conducted by a qualified and licensed acupuncturist who has undergone proper training. One of the advantages of using this treatment is that the use of the needle makes for a more precise treatment on the affected area resulting in faster relief.

Both techniques are proven ways to relieve allergies, depression, anxiety, back pain, migraines, headaches, and dysmenorrhea. Research has shown that these therapies work in relieving the side effects associated with chemotherapy such as the urge to throw up and vomiting. Consider acupuncture if you want a treatment that precisely targets the affected area and bring about relief of symptoms. But, if you have an aversion to needles, then you can opt for acupressure. These two methods do provide relief although outcomes may differ from person to person, depending on his/her response to the treatment, tolerance to pain, and on the severity of the condition.

Danielle DeVivo is a board certified and licensed acupuncturist in Saratoga Springs, NY.

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