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Acupuncture and Acupressure in Symptom Relief

Palliative Care

Updated 06-01-2024

Acupuncture and Acupressure in Symptom Relief

Among the myriad complementary therapies available today, acupuncture and acupressure have emerged as two prominent modalities for symptom relief. Steeped in millennia of Chinese therapeutic traditions, these practices have transcended cultural boundaries, earning a place in the annals of alternative medicine worldwide.

Understanding Acupuncture and Acupressure

Before delving into the efficacy of these techniques, it's essential to distinguish between them. Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into the skin at strategic points known as acupoints, intended to balance the flow of energy or 'qi' in the body. Acupressure, while founded on the same principles, is a needle-free approach that relies on the application of pressure to stimulate these points.

The Science Behind Acupuncture

The modern explanation for acupuncture’s mechanisms suggests that needle insertion stimulates nerve endings, which then influences the brain's response to pain. It is hypothesized that this can result in the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, and neurotransmitters that modulate nociceptive signals.

Clinical Studies and Acupuncture

Several clinical trials have scrutinized acupuncture’s role in symptom relief. For instance, in cases of chronic pain, numerous patients have reported significant improvements in conditions such as:

  • Tension headaches and migraines
  • Osteoarthritis, particularly in the knee
  • Postoperative pain
  • Lower back pain

Furthermore, acupuncture has been noted for its potential benefits in non-pain-related symptoms like nausea and vomiting, especially when induced by chemotherapy. It may also aid in the management of respiratory disorders such as allergic rhinitis.

The Role of Acupressure in Symptom Management

Shifting focus to acupressure, this modality offers a more accessible form of therapy that individuals can often perform on themselves to alleviate discomfort. This touch-based treatment is favoured by those who are needle-averse or seeking a less invasive alternative.

Acupressure Outcomes

Acupressure's alleviating effects have been observed in various contexts, including:

  • Reducing labour pain intensity
  • Minimizing the severity of menstrual cramps
  • Curbing insomnia symptoms
  • Alleviating mental stress and anxiety

This manual technique promotes relaxation and wellness by potentially unleashing the same biochemical pathways that acupuncture activates.

Integrating Acupuncture and Acupressure into Healthcare

Many health professionals in Australia and abroad now advocate for the inclusion of acupuncture and acupressure within integrative healthcare frameworks due to their therapeutic potential, minimal side effects, and non-pharmacological nature. In a healthcare landscape increasingly burdened by issues such as opioid dependency, these practices present viable adjuncts to conventional symptom management strategies.

Educating Practitioners and Patients

For acupuncture and acupressure to gain further traction, there is a need for continued education among healthcare providers and the public. Certified training for practitioners ensures that these techniques are applied safely and optimally. Patient education is equally important to demystify the practices and aid in informed decision-making.

Future Research Directions

To fortify the evidence base, ongoing and methodologically robust research is crucial. Controlled trials that elucidate the long-term efficacy, cost-effectiveness, and potential integration of acupuncture and acupressure into public health initiatives are needed. Such endeavours would bolster their credibility and facilitate their broader acceptance and utilization.


In conclusion, acupuncture and acupressure are time-honoured practices that have found their place in modern symptom relief. Their continued success hinges on evidence-based outcomes, professional training, public education, and a willingness to embrace complementary therapies in our overarching approach to health and well-being. Whether employed alone or in concert with conventional treatments, acupuncture and acupressure stand out as holistic options for those seeking respite from an array of symptoms.

About the Author

Olivia is a seasoned professional with an extensive career spanning the Aged Care sector, bringing decades of experience to her role. Her comprehensive understanding of Aged Care services and practices is a testament to her dedication. Olivia’s gratitude extends to those who have generously shared their knowledge and insights with her over the years, contributing to her wealth of expertise.
Olivia’s articles reflect her commitment to practical and informative content. They skillfully combine her industry know-how with real-world insights, providing valuable resources for navigating the complexities of the Aged Care sector. Olivia stands as a reliable advocate for delivering compassionate and effective care to elderly individuals, offering her support not only to fellow caregivers and professionals but also to those seeking to gain a deeper understanding of the sector.

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