I am frequently asked by my patients how I decide which acupuncture points to use during their treatment. It’s a complicated process, but the first thing to know is that all acupuncture points work like “on and off ramps” to your body’s energetic pathways. By needling into various points, your practitioner can access both your pathways and your deeper organs. Which points to needle are determined by a number of variables and the style of acupuncture used by your practitioner. Here are some of the things your acupuncturist is thinking about when they choose points for your particular treatment:
-Local or distant points. Generally, a mix of points is used, some near the area of pain or imbalance and some further away on your body.
-Pathways involved. If you’re being treated for pain, then the energetic pathways near that pain will likely be chosen. For conditions involving your organs, more than one pathway usually is used. That’s because an imbalance in one organ system often affects another. That also means it’s possible to heal an organ system by treating another.
-Function of each point. Each acupuncture point has specific indications or actions, such as clearing heat, moving energy, or nourishing. Points with a desired action will be chosen based on your particular pattern.
-Point combinations. Many acupuncture points work in combination with others. A pair or set of points might be used for their ability to enhance a treatment when used together.
-Practitioner preference. Each acupuncturist has points that they use regularly because they work best for him or her in the clinic. This relationship between the acupuncturist and the points they choose is an important aspect of each treatment.
-Style of acupuncture practiced. The style of acupuncture your practitioner uses will also determine which points they choose. For example, auricular acupuncture uses points located in your ear, Korean hand acupuncture is limited to your hand, and practitioners of five-phase acupuncture tend to use only points below your elbow and knees.