Learning Point Location For Acupuncture

locating acupuncture pointsWhen studying acupuncture, point location is one of the most important classes as a deep understanding of the points used in acupuncture will form a solid foundation for effective treatment later on in practice.

The point location classes are far more than just learning the locations of the points. During these classes, we are also taught to feel for the points, examine the channel pathways and understand the uses and functions of the different points.

Locating the Acupuncture Points

Each of the acupuncture points are located along one of the twelve main meridians of the body. Each point is in a very specific location and a specific distance from the adjacent points along the meridian pathway. Typically, many of the points also have anatomical landmarks in or around the area of the points, which also help with locating. However, not all of them do have a distinguishable landmark. In these cases, we need to rely on the measurement from nearby landmarks to bring us as close as possible to the point. Once we are in the area, we then need to feel for the point.

Measuring For The Points

When locating the acupuncture points, a very precise measurement is used called a cun. A cun is a Chinese unit of measure that equates to the width of the person’s thumb at the base of the nail. So, for example, if we are are measuring on a patient, we consider the cun measurement to be the width of the patient’s thumb, not our own. This is because their body shape will most likely be different from ours.

To further clarify this, when measuring from the lateral epicondyle of the humerus to the wrist crease, the measurement is 12 cun. When locating point Th-6 (Three Heater/Triple Burner 6) for example, the point is located on the posterior aspect of the forearm; three cun from the wrist crease midway between the ulna and the radius.

For more information on cun measurements, click here.

Here is a good video explaining how to use the cun measurements to locate the acupuncture points.

Feeling For The Points

When locating the points, having a good degree of sensitivity is also important. When we are in the area of the point, we are taught to then feel for the precise location. Interestingly enough, the acupoints do indeed have a very slight and almost imperceptible depression at the site of the point. When running one’s finger over the point, one can often feel an ever so slight dragging feeling under the finger.

According to Chinese medical theory, the more open the point feels at the time of locating the point, the more the point has a need to be needled.

Point Functions And Energetics

One of the aspects of the point location classes that people most enjoy learning is gaining an understanding of the functions and the energetics of the points. Each point has a different nature and can, therefore, bring about different effects within the body. For example, the antique points are a collection of points which describe the movement of energy at the different points along the channel and can therefore, have a different effect in thy type of movement that they create within the meridian.

Understanding how and why different points and combinations of points are used is where they start to come to life. There are weekly tests to ensure we keep up to speed with our learning and understanding of the acupuncture points, their locations and their functions and how the points may be used in a treatment.