Acupuncture Vs Acupressure: Do You Know the Difference?

Difference between Acupuncture and Acupressure

We can definitely be sure that every person would be familiar with Acupuncture and Acupressure - both of which are different, but well known traditional Chinese systems of medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine firmly believes in the ancient therapeutic practice that relies on the body’s vital energy known as Chi or Qi.


Chi is a Chinese word meaning aliveness, life force energy, or life breath. The traditional Chinese system of medicine emphasizes that the body has natural patterns of chi, associated with it. The chi circulates in channels called meridians in English. Chi promotes the body’s health and combats infections and diseases through a balanced and free flowing energy.


Acupuncture and Acupressure are both methods used to stimulate acupoints. Acupuncture uses a hair-thin needle to stimulate an acupoint, while acupressure uses a firm pressure to massage the acupoints. Acupuncture triggers a stronger stimulation to activate the body’s natural healing ability than acupressure.


Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine and alternative medicine that uses thin, sterilized needles being inserted into acupuncture points in the body. These acupuncture points are located at different spots in the meridians. Some variations of the treatment include application of heat, pressure and laser light to the same points. The main idea is to relieve pain.


Acupressure is another form of traditional Chinese medicine, but unlike acupuncture, it does not use any needles. It relies on pressure being exerted along the meridians, which relieves pain. Like acupuncture, acupressure involves the stimulation of certain points on the body.


Stimulating these points can trigger the release of endorphins - these are chemicals produced by the body to relieve pain. When endorphins are released, the pain is blocked, and the flow of blood and oxygen to the affected area is increased. This causes the muscles to relax and promotes healing.


Acupuncture Vs Acupressure

There are numerous discussions at length about the efficacy and efficiency of Acupuncture and Acupressure with each school of medicine claiming benefits of its own science. Acupressure and acupuncture are both classified as types of Asian bodywork and both possess the ancient healing powers of Chinese medicine. However, it can be quite difficult to differentiate the benefits of each - as both the systems have their own advantanges. Here is a short insight into both the therapies to show you how unique each therapy is.


Let Us Compare The Two and Examine the Individual Pros and Cons:

  • In acupuncture sterilized, thin, hair like needles are used for the treatment. These needles are extremely thin, and if inserted correctly do not cause any pain. The needles are left in the body for short periods of time as determined by the practitioner.

  • In acupressure, the treatment involves applying pressure at various parts of the body, particularly the hands, elbows, and feet. Sometimes, a specialized blunt metal or wood instrument is also used to help in the treatment.

  • In acupuncture the needle is inserted at specific points in the body, whereas in acupressure, the required pressure is applied. When pressure is applied, it releases muscular tension and promotes blood circulation.

  • Acupuncture can be done in a variety of ways, including application of heat, pressure and laser light to the same point along with the needle. But, acupuncture cannot be used for patients with a fear of or phobia for needles. For patients with a fear of needles, acupressure is a better option, as it does not use any needles.

  • Acupuncture is mainly used to relieve pains, especially body pains, including carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, neck and back pain, menstrual cramps, myofascial pains, and postoperative dental pain. Acupressure also reduces pain, but it can also control nausea and vomiting, reduce stress and anxiety, as well as depression.

  • A major difference between acupressure and acupuncture is the application of the procedures. Since an acupuncturist must have access to bare skin, it is necessary for the patient to undress before the acupuncture session begins. But, acupressure can be performed even if the patient is wearing loose clothing.

Acupressure has several advantages over acupuncture. It is extremely cost-effective as no special equipment is required. Moreover, it can be performed anywhere and at any time. It is very safe, as long as a person follows the instructions provided by the health care professional. No drugs are involved in acupressure, and hence, there cannot be any drug-related side-effects.


It offers a great deal of benefits to the patient. If it is correctly performed, acupressure increases circulation, reduces tension and enables the body to relax. Reducing tension, in turn, strengthens the immune system and promotes health and wellness.


However, acupressure has its own limitations. Applying acupressure too abruptly, or using too much force during treatment, can lead to bruising and discomfort. Great care should be taken when applying pressure to points on or near the abdomen, groin, armpits, or throat. Special care should also be taken by pregnant women or those with recently-formed scars, burns, infections or skin lesions. Patients should always consult a licensed health care professional or your personal physician before using acupressure or any other form of health care or treatment.


The acupressurist stimulates the area where you feel the pain or tension. This area is called the ‘local point’. The point can release tension in another part of the body that is distant from the point, but connected to a specific organ, which is known as the ‘trigger point’. This mechanism, also known as meridians, connects points to each other and to different organs. Just as the blood vessels carry blood that nourishes the body, the meridians circulate energy throughout the body.


Besides relieving pain, acupressure can help rebalance the body by lowering stress and tension levels and strengthening the immune system. Certain acupressure points can also relieve tension in the chest, enabling people to breathe freely, more deeply, and sleep better.


Acupressure points can be used to manage stress and prevent sports injuries. Acupressure has been used as a beauty treatment for thousands of years. It is also used to improve skin condition, and tone and relax the facial muscles, which can lessen the appearance of wrinkles without using any medication.