The acupuncturist determines which points to treat by observing and questioning the patient. In TCM, there are four diagnostic methods: inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiring, and palpation

  • Inspection concentrates on the face and in particular on the tongue, where tongue size, shape, tension, color and coating, and the absence/presence of teeth marks around the edge are considered
  • Auscultation and olfaction describe listening for particular sounds (such as wheezing) and attending to body odor.
  • Inquiring focuses on the “seven inquiries”, namely: chills and fever; perspiration; appetite, thirst and taste; defecation and urination; pain; sleep; and menses and leucorrhea.
  • Palpation includes feeling the body for tender “ashi” points, and palpation of the left and right radial pulses at superficial and depp levels of pressure and three positions Cun, Guan, Chi(immediately proximate to the wrist crease, and one and two fingers’ breadth proximally -usually palpated with the index, middle and ring fingers).

Other forms of acupuncture may use additional diagnostic techniques. In many forms of classical Chinese and Japanese acupuncture, palpation of the muscles and the hara (abdomen) are central to diagnosis.

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