Acupuncture vs. Acupressure

Learn why you need to give acupuncture and acupressure treatment a try.


By Lauren M


It’s time for a doctor’s visit and you’re dreading the needle from the shot you’ll be receiving. Now, imagine having HUNDREDS of those needles in you at the same time! Despite that horrible picture of pain, acupuncture is a method of healing that involves many tiny needles strategically placed in you at the same time. Patients say that acupuncture needles hurt significantly less than typical needles, so perhaps your aversion to needles won’t keep you from trying this ancient treatment method.

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that dates back thousands of years. While some of the tools have changed as advancements in technology have progressed, the general idea has remained the same.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), acupuncture is a technique in which specific areas of the body are targeted with thin needles. The needles pierce the skin and stimulate these targeted areas, providing healing and relief for the recipient.

Ow, my back! Over the years, acupuncture has provided positive health effects for those suffering with lower back problems. The American College of Physicians recommended acupuncture as a method of relieving lower back pain. In a 2007 study, they list the positive health effects of acupuncture as “pain relief,” and “a method of self-care,” comparing it to the healing principles of medications and heating pads. Similar results were found in a German study on acupuncture as it relates to neck pain. Specifically, acupuncture helped patients with neck pain to regain a wider scope of rotation along the axis joint of the neck. If you’ve got creaky knees, acupuncture may be able to provide relief for that as well! An Australian study sanctioned by the NCCIH states that acupuncture can help with range of motion for the knee and can decrease the amount of pain associated with walking and cycling.

Yet another area that acupuncture has shown signs of positive health effects is with chronic headaches. A 2012 study by the NCCIH showed that acupuncture can relieve tension in the cranium and can help decrease the frequency and severity of migraines and tension headaches. A 2009 study by the same health center concluded that acupuncture has similar results to that of pain medication designed to relieve migraines and tension headaches.

Studies done by Wake Forest Baptist Health have provided evidence that acupuncture can also have positive health effects in regards to carpal tunnel, depression, nausea, menstrual cramps, tendinitis, insomnia and tennis elbow. The National Institutes for Health (NIH) recognizes acupuncture as a therapeutic form of treatment that offers positive health effects to its patients. The NIH recommends acupuncture as a type of treatment for those recovering from chemotherapy as well recovering from a stroke. The health effects from these studies show that stroke victims and chemotherapy patients showed an increase in mental and physical health after being treated with acupuncture.

Acupressure is another form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been around for centuries. There are many similarities between acupuncture and acupressure. Some professionals even use the two terms interchangeably. The basis of acupressure is to send signals throughout the body by manipulating certain pressure points via hand or other tools applying pressure.

According to the UCLA Center for Medicine, one positive health effect of acupressure is that it increases circulation in the body which can, in turn, correct chemical imbalances. This helps “reset” the body and return it to it’s correct, balanced state. Another key positive effect of acupressure is that it can help relax the muscles of the body and decrease the physical stress that a person carries with them.

Professionals concur that there are virtually NO negative health effects associated with acupuncture or acupressure when administered properly. This makes them a low risk treatment option that boasts only positive health effects as a potential outcome. Over time, more and more acupuncture clinics have opened across the globe. With all the positive health effects we’ve listed, it may be time for you to start conquering your fear of needles and give acupuncture a try!

Main Photo Credit: NiP photography/; Second Photo Credit: Nanette Grebe/; Third Photo Credit: Albina Glisic/