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Palpation with a Purpose

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

In the course of receiving acupuncture your practitioner will likely employ manual examination in some form or another. Palpation is a diagnostic tool acupuncturists use to gather information through their sense of touch. I may feel different areas of the body for relative temperatures, or press into different organs or acupuncture points to identify pathology.

In addition to my own tactile observations, I may receive verbal feedback from the patient. Applying gentle pressure to a specific location may result in a feeling of tenderness, or of pain relief. The feedback I receive, whether it’s closer to “ouch” or closer to “ahh” provides insight into the patient’s condition, which guides me in designing a treatment strategy.

Here I am applying gentle pressure to specific locations on someone’s abdomen. Photo by Daniela Brown Photography

Although someone may feel tenderness or sensitivity, my intention is always to ensure that my patients feel comfortable and safe throughout the process. This experience can range from ticklish to triggering so I practice great care to keep the lines of communication open, while maintaining clear boundaries.

Other examples of palpation include the diagnostic method of reading pulses, and the process of point location.

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