We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Difference Between Acupuncture and Acupressure?

By S. Mithra
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The primary difference between acupressure and acupuncture is that the latter uses thin needles in addressing health concerns, while the former doesn't break your skin. However, the two methods of holistic medicine have much in common, since they are both based on touching meridians that carry energy, or chi, throughout the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM, ailments are caused by blockages of chi somewhere along fourteen meridians, so both acupressure and acupuncture encourage energy to flow freely once again; they are used to treat allergies, arthritis, depression, nausea, migraine headaches, menstrual cramps, and anxiety, according to the philosophy of TCM.

Acupuncture, as the word suggests, punctures the skin with very thin, long needles. They do not resemble the needles you see at a western doctor's office, for they don't inject any material. Acupuncture needles are flexible lengths of disposable, hypoallergenic, sterile metal that a trained acupuncturist delicately inserts beneath the skin, into muscle and tissue. When properly done, this shouldn't hurt at all. The needles reach certain areas, called pressure points, to break up the blockages.

One difference between acupressure and acupuncture arises in the specific application of the techniques. Acupuncture must be performed by a practitioner experienced in TCM. Several pressure points in specific combinations are accessed at the same time. The acupuncturist needs to reach bare skin, therefore the patient usually disrobes prior to being treated.

Anyone can easily learn acupressure from a handbook, especially pressure points that relieve common discomforts. You can perform the miniature massages on yourself, anywhere. Massaging the muscle located between your thumb and index finger is believed to relieve dehydration headaches, while pressing a spot on the inside of your forearm eases motion sickness. An acupressurist only touches one or two pressure points at a time, since they use their fingers, thumbs, palms, and elbows. Since this is similar to massage, it can be administered through loose clothing.

Acupressure is much older than acupuncture, dating back to 2500 BCE in China. Both practices have been recently evaluated by western standards of medicine; some studies have found them to be efficacious. For example, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and suffering from extreme nausea used acupressure, applied through a bracelet, to curb their nausea with consistent results.

In general, since an acupuncture tool is so thin, it requires greater accuracy, yet might bring quicker relief. On the other hand, acupressure is less precise since the tool is as wide as a finger. Then again, the speedy relief can come with side effects from releasing toxins or realigning muscle groups. Acupressure produces fewer side effects, similar to a deep tissue massage, and is more difficult to do "wrongly" to worsen the ailment.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon941061 — On Mar 21, 2014

Acupressure and acupuncture are both ancient Indian sciences that went to China through the silk and spice routes. Later it was accepted in China by the then kings. Please be informed of this important information.

By anon175571 — On May 13, 2011

I am a licensed practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Depending on the underlying issue, acupuncture can, in some cases, cure migraines, vertigo, and hearing loss. Sexual function is a bit trickier, and can often be helped by herbs along with acupuncture.

TCM treats each person's case differently, as there can be different reasons for each persons malady, so check with a qualified practitioner in your area. They will be happy to answer any questions, I am sure.

By anon166367 — On Apr 08, 2011

Can acupressure/acupuncture cure Sensoneurial Hearing loss in children?

By anon101838 — On Aug 05, 2010

can acupuncture cure sexual problems?

By anon62424 — On Jan 26, 2010

can acupuncture cure vertigo?

By anon28014 — On Mar 10, 2009

Can acupressure/acupuncture cure Migraines?

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.