Using these points always has different effects: of course the local area around the point is affected, but there is also an effect on a distance. This is a main principle of acupuncture: points are located on meridians, meridians run all over the body, some even from head to toe. Points are chosen according to the local problem and the underlying Traditional Chinese Medicine syndrome.
Lately there is more and more research that shows that the local approach is more effective than the distal approach. Recent research (Acupuncture in Medicine. 2008 Mar 26(1):17-26) shows that application of trigger point acupuncture, meaning local points, on patients with knee osteoarthritis, is more effective than the use of standard, traditional acupuncture.
Ancient users of acupuncture already knew the importance of local points. Those points were called “Ah-shi” points. Ah-shi means: Yes, that’s it! In other words, when you are in pain, you can rub over the area and at a certain point you can trigger the pain exactly by pushing on it. Those points are ah-shi points and should always be involved in the treatment.
Every muscle, ligament, joint or nerve related pain will have its own ah-shi points, but there are a couple of points in the body that can easily develop into an ah-shi point for everybody. For example on the lower back left and right of the pelvic wings are the so-called pain points of Sell. They are always tender to the touch and very often involved in lower back pain. Another one is on the lower leg, just below the knee, on the medial side of the tibia bone, just where the bone changes into soft tissue.
Other points are located in the centre of the buttocks over the sciatic nerve, at the back of the shoulder under the upper outside corner of the scapulae and in the V between the bones of the forefinger and thumb. There are many more. All these points are also ancient acupuncture points, so the question is: did they become acupuncture points because they are and were tender?
Another frequently painful ah-shi point is located in the midback, about an inch away from the spine, either left or right between the shoulder blades. This point can be extremely painful and does not want to react on any treatment. Many times patients have to rely on morphine to suppress the pain. In my experience this point is a trigger point from the mid thoracic spine. Because of bad posture and repetitive strain in that area when working on a computer, prolonged driving or working on a too low surface, the blood circulation decreases and muscles become stiff and painful. Postural correction, mobilization of the spine and local acupuncture will help restore the blood circulation in this area.
Ah-shi points can develop all over the body, depending on the activities we do. These points usually react very positive on acupuncture, because the needle can really go directly to the centre of it. Together with postural advice and making the patient understand what is going on, this is a very effective treatment for these often very painful spots.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.