Acupressure is similar to acupuncture as the meridians and points used are the same. However the manner of stimulating these points is done by digital pressure rather than with the insertion of a fine needle.
This difference changes the response of the body to the stimulation of the meridians and points. As pressure with a finger or knuckles on points can be stronger than the stimulation obtained with a needle, the effect is greater, especially regarding instant pain relief. Pregnancy acupuncturist specialist, Debra Betts advises to use acupressure for labour, and acupuncture for pregnancy and post-labour.
This example is quite straightforward in that acupuncture is used for more in-depth delicate internal action, and longer lasting effect. While acupressure is used for stronger, temporary relief.
One advantage is that anyone can use acupressure anywhere, the counterpart is that we only have so many fingers and hands, while acupuncture needles enable the activation of a broader, more complex set of points.
In my practice, I use acupressure to locate pain points or ashi points, especially when using the Balance Method Acupuncture. Although acupuncturists are traditionally taught a set number of points, any part of the body could be a point. By locating and using these points, I will initiate the most effective action regarding the condition of the patient.
Another inconvenient of acupressure is that it can be quite painful. While acupuncture will activate a point by buzzing gently, acupressure can generate a more painful sensation. This is why if the patient is absolutely scared of needles and cannot bear the idea of receiving acupuncture, I will use another method: the medical qigong.
Similar to western bio-energy and Japanese reiki, medical qigong is the direct transfer of energy from the therapist to the patient in order to stimulate the acupuncture point. In this particular case, from clinical experience, I would use the term “harmonise” rather than “stimulate” as the action of the energy is much gentler than the pressure or the needling.
This method is to be used with great care, as the therapist can be quickly drained of their energy if they do not know how to connect to another source and to protect themselves from the energy of the patient. Also, it bears the same inconvenient as the acupressure as the therapist is limited by the number of hands and fingers available!