What is acupressure?
Acupressure is often referred to as "acupuncture without needles," as it applies the same principles to treat specific medical conditions, promote relaxation and channel the body's own ability to naturally heal itself. As opposed to needles in the practice of acupuncture, acupressure concentrates on these same pressure points, or acupoints, that lie along meridians or channels in the body. It is believed that these meridians are interconnected with organs and tissues throughout the body, and those which are out of balance can cause illness.
The belief of acupressure practitioners is that activation of these points with pressure can improve blood flow, relieve tension and allow energy to flow more freely throughout the body. Acupressure takes on a number of regional styles, including other Asian bodywork therapies like qigong and Tuina, as well as the Japanese style of Shiatsu.
What does acupressure treat?
Acupressure is used as a means of pain relief, reducing tension in sore muscles and to promote deep states of relaxation, similar to massage therapy. Because of its concentration on acupoints and their relation to the body's overall balance, acupressure practitioners have also developed techniques that can treat conditions like fibromyalgia, headaches, neck and back pain and much more.
While acupressure's roots are based in more than 5,000 years of Asian medicine, it is mostly discounted by Western medical professionals who believe that any form of pain relief that arises from the treatments is more related to the same physical effects that occur during massage therapy. The body's natural release of endorphins, reduced muscle tension and improved circulation that arise from these treatments could account for the natural pain relief qualities that acupressure espouses.
If a physician suggests acupressure as a means of preventing or treating a specific medical condition, a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN) will be required for FSA, HSA and HRA reimbursement. This letter must outline how acupressure will be used to alleviate the issue and how long the treatment will last. If the treatment plan exceeds the current plan year, another LMN will have to be provided to the benefits administrator to cover the duration of the treatment.