A common question we get when treating our patients is "what does that needle do?" In this post, we'll try to answer why we put needles in certain places and not others (when we put needles in those other places during your last treatment)? How do we choose? Why does the needle placement change treatment to treatment?
Here are several methods we use to determine which acupuncture points are appropriate for a patient coming in for a treatment:
1. From a TCM perspective, each acupuncture point has a specific function
within the body, and we choose points based on your unique TCM
diagnosis. Because your diagnosis may vary from treatment to treatment (even just slightly), our point selection for you may change to match the diagnosis. For example, if we determine that there is a lack of Qi
(energy), and that is the cause of your particular set of symptoms during a visit, we will
use acupuncture points that have the specific function of increasing Qi
in the body. Alternately, if your symptoms at your next visit are due to blocked Qi, we
will use points that specifically unblock stagnant energy in the body.
2. Each acupuncture point lies on a particular energy pathway, or meridian. We
choose points based on what meridian is affected by your illness or
symptoms. For example, if you have hip pain, we may choose points on
your feet that are on the same meridian as your hip pain. Points might be right at the location of the pain (called local points) or further down the meridian from that location (called distal points).
have complex relationships with one another. Certain meridians balance
other meridians, or complement them. We may choose points on a
complementary or opposite meridian as the affected one for treatment. This means that for a condition like right knee pain, we may treat your left elbow. The theory for this type of treatment is based on the idea of treating a healthy part of the body so that it can help alleviate symptoms on a "sick" or blocked meridian.
4. For internal issues (like digestive, respiratory, urinary, circulatory, reproductive, and mental-emotional imbalances), we treat the meridians on the surface of the body that stem from the internal energetic organ. For example, in TCM theory, most, if not all, digestive issues in the body happen because of a weakness in the Spleen internal energetic organ. As a result, if you come into the clinic with symptoms like recurrent gas, bloating, loose stools, etc, we will choose points along the Spleen meridian (among others) to help correct the imbalance and restore your digestive system to it's normal function.
These are the most common ways we select points, but there are others. So, if you have any questions at all about why we are needling a certain area, please ask! We are always happy to answer any questions!