How to Choose Acupuncture Points?

Patients in my New York Acupuncture clinic are always curious how acupuncturists choose the correct acupuncture points.  There are a number of ways to choose the acupuncture points.

The basic idea with acupuncture is to correct the underlying imbalance in the body.  This can help to stimulate the body to heal itself.  We acupuncturists will determine the imbalance by our examination.  For example, if there is lack of circulation  of the energy, what we call qi stagnation, we’ll choose points to move the qi.  A common combination for moving the qi is Liv 3 and LI 4.

I find that acupuncture is most effective by changing the focus of the treatment overtime. At first, we may focus on releasing tension in the muscles, this is called moving qi and blood stagnation.  But over time it may become more important to focus on boosting up the qi to support the overall health.  This is often true in the acupuncture treatment of chronic prostatitis.

There are also points which are chosen based on the location of the illness.   Pain on the urinary bladder channel ,which travels up the back, can be treated with acupuncture points on the urinary bladder channel located on the legs such as UB 40 or UB 60.  These points can help with the treatment of chronic pelvic pain syndrome, chronic low back pain, and sciatica.

Acupuncturists will also search out for specifically painful areas at the location of the pain.  In Chinese these are called ashi points.  In English this means “ouch points.”  Often, they may be referred to as trigger points in the West.  Acupuncture will help to release these areas of pain to relax the muscle, increase circulation, and reduce pain.  Trigger points are very important in the acupuncture treatment of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

Acupuncturists also may use a specific point because we know that it is clinically effective.  For example, using PC 6 acupuncture point for nausea has been shown time and time again to reduce many types of nausea.  Because we know this works through clinical experience, we call this an empirical point.

Every acupuncturist has their own style.  We develop these through training, our personal interests, and clinical experience.

Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
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