What is the difference between acupressure and acupuncture? When would you choose one over the other?
Well for some people the choice is simple. If you don’t like needles but you have heard that there is strong clinical evidence for the use of acupuncture points and Traditional Chinese Medicine then acupressure can be a nice alternative. It is also often more appropriate for children, partly because they don’t like needles and partly because they respond so well to acupressure and Tuina and don’t require needling.
On the other hand you may be open to both but don’t know which one would be best. Well here are some of the pros and cons of both.
Acupressure is more indicated in musculoskeletal conditions of pain due to contracted muscle tissue, scar tissue, etc. It can also be very relieving for digestive and bowel conditions such as IBS, diarrhea and constipation.
Acupuncture is more indicated for non-musculoskeletal and can be particularly effective for conditions where heat needs to be released, such as inflammatory conditions where piercing the skin is said to allow pathogenic heat to leave the body.
In our clinic we tend to mix both, as most musculoskeletal and digestive conditions will also respond quite well to needling. Acupressure and massage will tend to give immediate relief while acupuncture tends to work at a deeper and more precise energetic level to bring long lasting healing results. When massage and acupressure alone are used then relief may be quick but not long lasting and when acupuncture alone is used the result may often be delayed by a day or even 24 hours so there is long term healing, but not an immediate relief of symptoms. Using both Tuina (massage and acupressure work) and acupuncture is a most effective combination to work on both these levels and to provide the best possible service to our clients.
Other techniques include warming with lamp or moxa and the use of cupping to enhance the effect of massage. Combined with massage, acupressure and acupuncture, this blend of ancient techniques can be highly effective in bringing both short and long term relief to a wide variety of conditions.
Liam Byrne, Yoga & Pilates Instructor, Acupuncturist, Physical Therapist, Sports Massage Therapist,