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New Point Locations

Acupuncture, Trigger & Motor Points
For each medical condition or acupuncture diagnosis, there a number of possible acupuncture, trigger or motor points to choose to treat.

Acupuncture points can be chosen from local acupuncture meridian points in the vicinity of the physical problem, from Ahshi or locally sensitive points or using distal points from a range of theories and personal systems (Dr. Tan, Master Tung). In addition, points can be chosen to address underlying imbalances chosen from various theoretical frameworks including TCM, 5 element, Japanese, Korean or others.

Trigger or motor points can be chosen from any muscles related through structural connections or trigger point referral patterns. Trigger or motor points are frequently in the center of the muscle belly; other trigger points occur in the muscle-tendon junction, fascia between muscles, tendino-periosteal junction or ligaments. Other points in muscles that are responses to particular postural or traumatic stresses can also be used.

Some of these points are more clinically useful than others. The MPT class series teaches the most clinically useful points for each condition based on Malvin Finkelstein’s 30 years of clinical experience

Anatomical Landmark Reference Point Locations
Point locations are defined by relationship to anatomical structures – most frequently to bones or muscles. All points are considered to be very small.

Japanese and some classical Chinese traditions emphasize palpation. Palpation traditions define tightness of the tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament, fascia) and tenderness to the patient as the defining features of an “active” point.

Some of my early experiences as NCCAOM Exam Committee Chairperson for 6 years, enlightened my concept of point locations. At the beginning of the process of developing the point location exam, master acupuncturists and teachers from many traditions were brought together and asked to locate a series of points on models. This was done with well thought out methodology to insure independent and consistent marking. To the great surprise and consternation of all participants, the results indicated that although there was agreement on the anatomical description, there was not agreement on the actual location on a model. Points ranged in size from dime-sized to several inches. Participants were checked and double checked on their locations and described their 30-50 years of successful usage of their locations, as well as the many generations of their teachers’ use of these locations. A consistent method of testing these points was developed over the next year.

In my own practice, I expanded my palpation of points and found that many of the differing point locations were tight and tender on various patients. Over many years, I discovered that some point descriptions were close, but did not correlate with underlying anatomical structures, such as joints, muscle tendon junctions, etc. When I palpated at those anatomical structures, the points were significantly more tight and tender and treatment of these points got significantly better results.

I believe that when the points were first discovered, these anatomical structures were the points that were treated. Over centuries and millennia of oral transmission, I believe that these correlations were lost in many of the traditions. The traditions that utilize palpation have sometimes been able to get back to these locations.

I have systematized the locations of these anatomically located points and teach these points in my classes.