Acupressure Versus Acupuncture: Knowing the Difference

You have probably heard of the term’s acupressure and acupuncture before. Most people who are not familiar with the techniques used in alternative medicine would often mistake one for the other. Well, these two therapies are very distinct although they share the same desired outcome – to alleviate or completely eliminate pain both mentally and physically. Despite their individual differences both are considered part of TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine. Each has its own unique technique. Let’s try to understand what acupressure and acupuncture are and how are they different from each other. Knowing the differences will give you an idea what kind of therapy you’ll need.

What is Acupressure?

Acupressure is a form of alternative medicine that has been around and has been practiced for centuries. Unlike acupuncture that uses needles, acupressure as the name implies, involves the application of pressure on certain parts of the body. Since it doesn’t use needles, most people prefer acupressure to acupuncture. The practitioner manually applies pressure using his or her hands. Fingers are pressed on certain points of the patients’ body in order to relieve tension.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is also a form of TCM and has been around for centuries. It is popularly practiced in several Asian countries. The goal of acupuncture is to acquire yin and yang balance and energy flow. If the natural flow of energy is disrupted it will result to health issues and complications.

The procedure involves the careful insertion of sharp, thin needles in certain areas of the body. This is performed in order to restore the balance of energy in the patient’s body. The needles can be inserted through electrical stimulation or through manual insertion. When the practitioner has successfully inserted the needles, it will be allowed to stay in the body for a specific length of time. How long it will stay will depend on the practitioner’s assessment.

Majority of people prefer acupressure because they are afraid of the pain in acupuncture that comes with needle insertion. However, you have to remember that this procedure is only done by a trained and experienced professional. When a licensed acupuncturist will insert the needles, the patient will not experience any pain.

Are the Points of Acupuncture and Acupressure Similar?

According to TCM, qi or energy is believed to flow through distinct channels also known as meridians along the human body. An acupuncturist is able to access these channels through specifically accurate acupuncture points that total to around 350. These acupuncture points are sorted based on their effects on the body. They can be controlled through needle insertion and pressure application. Hence, the points where meridians are accessed are the same for both acupuncture and acupressure.

What Are the Benefits of Acupuncture and Acupressure?

Both therapies aim to bring back the normal energy flow of the body to achieve health and wellness. The two also aim to reduce any form of physical and mental pain. In a way, they share the same benefits. When executed correctly, acupressure and acupuncture will help relieve your body of tension and stress, relax your body and mind, improve your blood circulation, rid your body of toxic waste, offer relief from shoulder, neck and head pain, expedite healing from injuries, enhance your body’s energy level, reduce labor pain, treat anxiety and improve overall health and wellness.

What Therapy Should You Choose?

Although both acupressure and acupuncture share the same benefits, your practitioner will be the one to choose which type of therapy is needed and is more appropriate based on your specific disease condition.

Acupressure is typically performed for the following reasons:

  • To relieve tension as a result of stress
  • To achieve balance of the body
  • To enhance your body’s ability to resist the disease
  • To improve blood circulation
  • To reduce body tension
  • To treat neck pain
  • To treat arthritis
  • To treat eye strain
  • To treat sinus migraines and headaches
  • To treat sinus problems
  • To promote wellness

Meanwhile, a patient can benefit from acupuncture if he or she experiences the following:

  • Asthma
  • Tennis elbow
  • Headache
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Addiction
  • Nausea and vomiting as side effects of chemotherapy
  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • Post-op dental pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lower back pain

When Should You Choose Acupressure and Acupuncture?

If you don’t know, don’t worry because your practitioner will offer his or her recommendations. Ideally, acupuncture is best for individuals who suffer certain health conditions or if they have been diagnosed by a medical doctor. Acupuncture is used to treat patients who suffer from chronic health issues like hormonal issues, insomnia, migraines, chronic pain, headaches and emotional pain.

Acupressure is recommended for individuals who suffer from minor illnesses like morning sickness, motion sickness, nausea and vomiting. Your practitioner will know what points to press or massage to treat the symptoms.


Regardless of their differences, acupressure and acupuncture both relieve pain and both therapies aim to improve your overall health and wellness. Don’t worry about the needles because as long as the procedure is done by a trained acupuncturist you will not experience any pain in fact it will even relieve whatever pain your body is experiencing. Nevertheless, whichever therapy you choose will depend on you and your personal preference. Even if your practitioner will make his or her recommendations, ultimately it will all boil down to what you want.