Diagnosis Methods used in Acupuncture

When a Chinese Medical practitioner sees a patient the method of diagnosis will in some ways be similar to what happens when seeing a western doctor.  However there are some important differences.  Lets explain them a little.     


Practitioners go through a very long questioning process to try to get to know you.  This is a very deliberate type of detective work used to learn as much as possible about you health concerns.  The more we know, the better able we are to help fix the problem.

Orthopedic Exams

     When it is relevant, we use multiple orthopedic, neuromuscular, and other similar exams to evaluate muscle, joint, cartilage, ligament, and nervous system health.

Pulse Diagnosis

     The first and most unusual method used is pulse diagnosis.  A Chinese medical practitioner will feel the radial pulse in both wrists.  This method was first extensively written about in a book called “The Maijing - Pulse Classic” written in the Han Dynasty over 2000 years ago.  While taking your pulse the practitioner is looking inside your body.  Your pulse is broken down into parts.  On your right wrist we look at the health of your lungs, spleen/stomach, and kidney health, as well as overall energy.  On your left wrist we are looking at the health of your heart, liver/gallbladder, and kidneys, as well as your body’s blood systems.  In our clinic we base our pulse method on the teachings of a very famous doctor’s teachings from the year 1518 name Li Shi-zhen.  His teachings give us 28 different qualities to look for in your pulses.  Though it may be hard to believe, this method can even be used to judge the gender of a baby before it is born.  The qualities that we find in each of your organ’s spots tells us a lot about the overall health and vitality of that organ.

 Tongue Diagnosis

     Another unique method of diagnosis that we use in Chinese medicine is tongue diagnosis.  A practitioner will usually ask you to stick out your tongue so they can look at it.  Some of you may remember older doctors or your grandmother doing this to you.  Similar to pulse diagnosis, your tongue carries a picture of your body and its health on it.  The tip of your tongue shows the vitality of your heart, just behind that is the health of your lungs, the sides show your liver/gallbladder, the center is your stomach/spleen, and lastly your intestines and kidneys are at the back of your tongue.  When looking at your tongue we look at the color of the body, the shape of the tongue, and the thickness and color of the coating.  All of this can give useful information about the health of your body and its various organs.

 Point and Meridian Palpation

     Another unique method of gathering diagnostic information is to palpate various parts of your body.  We will often feel acupuncture points along the 12 meridian system of your body.  When doing this we feel for tender spots, hot, cold, or swollen spots, etc.  Since each of the 12 meridians corresponds to an organ we can make a correlation to your internal organs.  In addition, there is a group of points, nicknamed alarm points, that tell us that there is a particular problem with that organ.

Acugraph 4  to provide an evidence-based exam data system and acupuncture point selection method, AcuGraph® is like a lab test for acupuncture. 

Acugraph instantly provides a graphical analysis and interpretation of the meridian system and overall personal health score to more accurately design treatments.

     Finally there are several other diagnostic methods that we use depending on the case.  For example, there is a method of looking at fingernails, looking at the eye and its surrounding skin, looking at the veins in the hand and observing the face.  Each of these can be helpful in providing more information for treatment.

     When all of these diagnostic methods are used and combined with the answers to questions asked in the interview we can create powerfully accurate diagnosis from which to construct treatments.

Systems of the Human Body from Miridia Technology on Vimeo.