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How Does My Acupuncturist Make a Diagnosis?

Posted on April 10, 2016 at 11:05 AM

When I first began working with my acupuncturist I assumed that she would just start sticking needles in and that would be that. I was pretty surprised that I had to go through a diagnosis process during the first visit. It was similar to any visit to a doctor, and at the same time very different. I know that I mentioned this earlier, but now I would like to explore a bit of the “why” involved in the process.


Ancient Chinese Medicine, including acupuncture, is meant to work with the body’s own natural healing abilities to bring both the body and the spirit back in balance. Ancient Chinese Medicine believed and believes that both are necessary to achieve wellness (Wilkowski). This means that all of the diagnostic tools look at the body as a whole.


The initial visit usually includes some type of health questionnaire. A health questionnaire just makes sense for any health practitioner. After all, it’s important to know about pre-existing conditions, medications, and general health. I didn’t even question that one.


Then came the tongue examination. Why is it important and included in every visit? The tongue is one of the maps of your body’s Qi (often pronounced chee or kee). Qi is the vital life energy circulating through your body, and is a balance of both positive and negative.


By looking at the color, coating, and shape of your tongue, your acupuncturist can tell a lot about your Qi. The color of the tongue indicates heat. Your tongue has a coating (even if you brush or scrape your tongue). The thickness of the coating, as well as the color of the coating, can indicate imbalances in certain organs. The tongue tends to change shape and size according to the amount of fluid the body retains or loses. Other deficiencies can also change the shape and size of the tongue (Try Acupuncture).


After checking my tongue, my pulse was checked. My acupuncturist checks my pulse in both wrists. Sometimes she will check in my ankles, as I have bad arthritis in both feet and fibromyalgia that affects my ability to walk without a lot of pain. Your practitioner will check pulses according to your needs. It’s all part of the life flow and energy circulating throughout your body.


Next time, we’ll look at how the information from these tools are used to help your acupuncturist determine how to treat you.


Remember, if you have questions about your treatment plan – Ask! And if you have questions about what is included in my blog posts, please post a comment.



Try Acupuncture.org. The Importance of the Tongue in Traditional Chinese Medicine. http://tryacupuncture.org/the-importance-of-the-tongue-in-traditional-chinese-medicine/


Wilkowski, Rebecca A. Acupuncture: Ancient Medicine for a New Millennium. Qi: The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health & Fitness, http://www.qi-journal.com/acupuncture.asp?Name=Ancient%20Medicine%20for%20a%20New%20Millennium&-token.D=Article


Categories: A Patient's Perspective

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