Acupressure is a traditional East Asian healing method to relieve pain, promote relaxation, wellness and to treat some diseases. During the acupressure session, a therapist stimulates acupuncture points along the meridians using fingers instead of acupuncture needles. Therefore, acupressure is sometimes called acupuncture without the needles.

Differences Between Acupressure and Acupuncture

  • Although acupuncture and acupressure are both used to stimulate meridians, they do so differently. Acupuncture involves inserting hair-like needles into specific points in the body. The needles are very flexible, and the procedure is usually painless. In some cases, the acupuncturist may stimulate the points by twirling the needles. Although it can vary, the needles may stay in your body for about 30 minutes.
  • Acupressure uses firm pressure instead of needles to massage and stimulate the meridians. Pressure can be applied using the fingers, palms, hands or a tool.
  • When it comes to acupuncture and acupressure, one practice is not better than the other. Acupressure has been around longer, but more clinical studies have been conducted involving the effectiveness of acupuncture. Although acupuncture is usually not painful, some people do not like the idea of needles and may prefer acupressure.

Risks and Precautions

  • Acupressure and acupuncture are considered safe for most people and usually do not cause any negative side effects. Although side effects are very rare, when they do occur, it is usually the result of a poorly trained acupuncturist or acupressurist.
  • Since acupressure does not involve inserting needles, there are virtually no side effects. Slight tissue damage is a rare complication, which again is usually due to poor technique by the practitioner. Although most states do not currently license acupressurists, it’s still essential to go to a qualified practitioner.