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Not all ancient forms of healing have become extinct — acupuncture and acupressure fit this description. As alternative therapies used for pain management, preventative measures and to promote overall health, both are still practiced today as part of a holistic health care approach that promotes the body’s natural healing process.

The philosophy behind the practices of acupuncture and acupressure is the principle of “Qi” or Chi. In traditional Chinese Medicine, Chi (as it is pronounced) is the flow of energy in and out of all things. Acupuncture and acupressure work to release blockages of stagnant energy in the body. The idea is to return the flow of energy within the body and restore health. 

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into carefully-selected points found just below the surface of the skin. These acupuncture points are located on pathways called meridians. Each meridian corresponds with specific systems in the body such as digestive, emotional, hormonal and reproductive. These meridians form a communication network that connects and directs activities within the body. During acupuncture, the carefully-selected set of acupuncture points is stimulated and messages are sent through the meridians to their corresponding body systems. This is designed to correct the patterns of disharmony in the body and return a person to optimal health. 

What is Acupressure?

Acupressure is the same concept as acupuncture, but it is performed using finger and hand pressure. When acupressure is applied, neurotransmitters are stimulated and released, inhibiting the reception and transmission of pain.

Are These Therapies Safe? 

Acupuncture and acupressure are considered to be gentle, safe and effective pain management therapies. There are generally no dangers or side effects of these therapies. And although you may feel a very slight prick when an acupuncture needle is first inserted, there is typically no additional pain. In addition, when performed by a licensed and certified practitioner, acupuncture is a safe treatment option. Acupressure is even safer due to its non-invasive technique.

What Can Be Treated?

Many patients using acupuncture and acupressure therapies have already been assessed, diagnosed and even treated by conventional medicine practices. Often these attempts have not provided any or enough relief for a patient, and they turned to alternative therapies to support or replace their current treatment. Others use it as a form of preventative medicine and to promote health, energy and vitality.

Often, acupuncture and acupressure are performed to treat mental and emotional issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, addiction, anger and insomnia. These alternative therapies are also used to treat  a number of physical issues including infertility, asthma, allergies, stomach and digestive issues, migraines and headaches, fibromyalgia, skin rashes, acute and chronic pain, immune system problems, chronic illness, weight loss or gain, chronic fatigue disorder and hormonal imbalances.

For these types of conditions, acupuncture and acupressure therapy can be quite effective and is often covered by insurance. Some plans may require preauthorization or will only cover the cost to a certain extent. If you are considering acupuncture or acupressure therapy, make sure you check with your insurer prior to starting treatment.