Acupuncture Q&A: What are you feeling for?
Palpation is a significant part of an acupuncture session. I feel the pulse, I poke around the abdomen, I assess areas of pain and dysfunction, and I find acupuncture points.
So it's no surprise that a very frequent question that I get during treatment is:
What are you feeling for?
I feel the pulse on both wrists by resting three fingers along the radial artery. In general I feel for the rate, relative strength, depth, and width of the pulse. Both sides as well as the positions beneath each finger give slightly different information, correlating with different internal systems of the body. This is another way to pinpoint how your body is working. Sometimes your pulse matches up exactly with your symptoms, and other times it will indicate another aspect of your diagnosis that hadn't presented itself yet.
In such cases, it might prompt me to ask more questions, such as:
Any changes in digestion lately?
And you've been sleeping okay?
or, Have you been feeling run down at all? Have any cold symptoms come up?
The abdominal palpation that I do comes from my Japanese acupuncture training. Learn more about abdominal palpation in my previous blog post here!
When someone comes into the office with pain, I'll often palpate the area in pain and surrounding tissues. I'm feeling for tension, flaccidity, texture, and tenderness. Sometimes I will also perform resistance muscle testing to tease out the strength of individual muscles. This all informs how we will proceed with treatment.
Many people are curious how I know where all of the points are, and how to find them. Each acupuncture point has a specific location, defined by surrounding anatomical structures. I'm often palpating for a tendon, aspect of a bone, or feature within a muscle.
While palpation and touch is an important part of my assessment and treatment process, an individual's comfort is our utmost priority. At our initial evaluation and treatment we go over any areas or parts of your body that you wouldn't want touched or needled.