Back acupuncture pressure points showing acupuncture point model

About Acupressure Technique and Pressure Points Benefits

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.

Acupressure is one of massage procedures with its roots in ancient Chinese medicine.  Tuina can be considered a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) form of acupressure, shiatsu is a Japanese form of acupressure. While tuina and shiatsu have been developed as systemic professional massage procedures, a single point acupressure has been used as home remedy to eliminate or ease some minor health issues.

In this section of, we introduce some of the commonly used acupressure points for different health conditions and symptoms.

Acupressure Point for Constipation

Important Acupressure Tips

  • Unless specifically specified, use the thumb to apply a steady, firm pressure. Certain acupressure points can be more effectively stimulated by using the tips of other fingers (index, middle or baby fingers) or palms of the hands.
  • Moderate pressure on acupoints may induce a sensation of dull ache or tenderness.   However, the pressure should not cause any pain or discomfort.
  • Do not use the nails to apply pressure.
  • Spend 3-5 seconds to apply a gentle, gradual pressure, then slowly release the pressure.  Repeat the process several times.
  • In general, a direct pressure on bones and joints is not recommended.
  • Do not apply acupressure to areas of swelling, redness, or wounds.
  • Acupressure should be avoided for individuals with acute injuries, fever, osteoporosis, cancer and some other illnesses.
  • Certain acupressure points are contraindicated during pregnancy.

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.

Look for an acupressurist who completed formal training in acupressure and is certified through a professional organization. The top national certification agencies include the National Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and the American Organization of Bodywork Therapies of Asia.

Characteristics of Acupressure

Relaxation **

Therapeutic ****

Intensity: Moderate to Very Strong

Lubrication: no

Undressing: no

Tip: Depends on facility

How to interpret the rating scale

Acupressure – Demystified

Acupressure is sometimes referred to as ‘pressure acupuncture’ or ‘acupuncture without needles’.

It has been used for thousands of years in China, Japan, and other Asian countries, to promote relaxation and wellness, as well as to treat disease. Acupressure not only treats the body but also has positive effects on mind, emotions, and spirit.

How Does Acupressure Work?

Similar in principle to acupuncture, acupressure is based on the concept of Qi (life energy) flowing through “meridians” in the body. 12 major meridians network through the body, connecting specific organs. Physical pressure applied to any of the numerous acupoints can help clear illness-causing blockages in meridians, allowing for the free movement of Qi.

During an acupressure treatment, a client sits on the chair or lies on the table, then the therapist applies gentle pressure to specific acupoints using fingers, palms, elbows, or a variety of devices. The therapy may involve other methods such as stretching or acupressure kneading massage.

Some studies have shown that improved circulation and release of pain relieving endorphins are two of the factors responsible for acupressure’s many healing effects.

Health Benefits of Acupressure

Scientific studies have cited acupressure as effective in the management of nausea and vomiting. It is also helpful in helping to relieve lower back pain, stomach ache and tension headaches.

Acupressure relieves nausea after chemotherapy while improving energy levels. It has been also reported to help lower stress, relieve pain and reduce the severity of other cancer treatment related symptoms.

For arthritis sufferers, acupressure supports anti-inflammatory effects and promotes the release of pain relieving endorphins. Acupressure can be used to lessen fatigue and improve mood leading to a decrease in depression and anxiety.

Here is a list of some other health conditions that appear to improve with acupressure.

  • postoperative pain
  • pain and discomfort during spinal anesthesia
  • motion sickness
  • pregnancy related issues


Acupressure is generally considered very safe. It is, however, advisable that persons with arthritis, cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, or other chronic conditions, discuss the treatment with their primary health care providers before proceeding. As the therapy involves deep tissue work with manipulation of joints and muscles, it should be avoided or given a careful consideration before proceeding in any of the following situations:

  • the area to be treated is the site of a cancerous tumor; or if the cancer has spread to bones
  • conditions that could worsen with physical manipulation such as rheumatoid arthritis, a spinal injury, or a bone disease
  • varicose veins
  • pregnancy

Acupressure is one of Asian bodywork therapies, a group that also includes shiatsu, Anma, and Tui Na. In Western countries it has steadily gained popularity to combine the technique with regular massage treatment.

Commonly Used Acupressure Points on Head and Face


Location: On the face, in the nasolabial sulcus, at the same level as the midpoint of lateral border of the ala of the nose.

Condition: Nasal congestion


Location: On the face, directly inferior to the pupil, at the same level as the inferior border of the ala of the nose.

Condition: Hay fever


On the face, in the depression between the midpoint of the inferior border of the zygomatic arch and the mandibular notch.

Condition: Jaw pain


Location: On the face, in the depression between the superomedial parts of the inner canthus of the eye and the medial wall of the orbit.

Condition: Eye strain


Location: On the head, in the depression at the medial end of the eyebrow.

Condition: Sinusitis


Location: On the face, in the depression between the supratragic notch and the condylar process of the mandible.

Condition: Tinnitus


Location: On the face, in the depression between the supratragic notch and the condylar process of the mandible.

Condition: Eye strain


Location: On the face, in the depression between the supratragic notch and the condylar process of the mandible.

Condition: Facial paralysis


Location: On the head, 5 B-cun superior to the anterior hairline, on the anterior median line.

Condition: Concentration


Location: On the head, 1 B-cun superior to the anterior hairline, on the anterior median line.

Condition: Sinusitis


Location: On the face, at the midpoint of the philtrum midline.

Condition: Fainting

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