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What's in an acupuncture intake: Abdominal Palpation

Acupuncturist palpating the abdomen before acupuncture treatment in Newburyport.

Acupuncturist palpating the abdomen before acupuncture treatment in Newburyport.

I am trained in both Chinese (specifically Traditional Chinese Medicine) and Japanese acupuncture styles. Both styles originate from theories based on the same ancient Chinese texts, but they have interpreted these texts differently. I love both styles, have observed incredible results using techniques from each, and tend to incorporate the two into blended, personalized treatments for my patients.

Both styles utilize a detailed health history and pulse diagnosis to get information about a condition. The most significant difference in intake, is that Chinese style generally looks at the tongue whereas Japanese style defers to abdominal palpation. As I blend the two styles, I usually opt to take note of all of these pieces of information. The more information I can get, the better!

When palpating the abdomen, I use both light touch and deeper pressure.

With light touch, I can get a sense of temperature and texture. These may show up in different patterns.

With deeper pressure, more patterns can show up. This may be in the form of tension, flaccidity, or pulsing that I can feel below my fingertips, or it may be a sensation of tension or pain that a patient feels upon palpation.

Like the tongue, the abdomen is a microcosm in which different areas corresponding to different systems and parts of the body. The different patterns that show up in the abdomen give me further information as to how to best treat a patient.

The abdomen can respond very quickly to treatment. In many cases, areas of tension and pain in the abdomen can improve or even resolve after one treatment. It's a great marker to gauge whether or not we're on the right treatment plan!


This concludes our "What's in an acupuncture intake" series. You can catch up on health history, pulse, and tongue on the blog if you missed it, or schedule a complimentary consultation if you're curious to see what it's all about for yourself!

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