I’ll bet you’ve done this before. The patient comes in for their regular treatment and spouts off her normal chief complaints: Upper back tension. She also mentions she have a weird random pain on the top of her right foot for no recognizable reason.
I moved forward with my normal appointment flow–graph the patient; treat the points related to the graph; and treatment of chronic, neck, back and shoulder pain. Finally, I let the patient relax with needles for a bit.
When I came back to pull needles I do a quick mental slap in the forehead…
“Oh man, I forgot to focus on the foot pain, and now we are out of time.”
The first thought I had was to add some Zheng Gu Shui (one of my favorite liniments) to the painful area on the foot. As I reach down to palpate the foot so I could put Zheng Gu Shui on it, the patient says:
“WOW, my foot pain is gone. You didn’t even put needles there. You are amazing.”
As I offer a quick verbal response…
“Yep, that acupuncture stuff really works, huh?”
…the wheels in my brain start turning as I try to analyze WHY the foot pain was gone. I had simply balanced the graph and treated back pain. The fact that the foot pain had disappeared didn’t make sense according to my treatment strategies. There had to be something I was missing. THEN, with a little bit of AcuGraph digging, a light bulb went on. Of course the foot pain was gone.
I have two thoughts as to why this made perfect sense.
#1: The 80% Rule
Eighty percent of a patients problems resolve by simply balancing the graph. If a channel is deficient, tonify it. If it is excess, sedate it. This simple act of putting the body into balance takes care of “many” overall aches and pains, digestive issues, emotional imbalances, and general little idiosyncrasies within the body.
Here’s a picture of this patient’s graph.
Nothing specific in this graph really pointed to the foot pain she was experiencing. That’s okay. Simply putting the body in balance takes care of many general problems.
Points I used to balance the graph:
- Spleen Excess: SP 8 (Xi Cleft for the Spleen Channel)
- Bladder Excess: BL 28 (Back Shu for the Bladder Channel)
Other points I added:
- Neck and Shoulder Treatment: SI 11, GB 21, Di Jia, BL 10
- Back Pain: BackShu Ashi, BL 58, SP 6
#2: Flow of Energy Rule
Resolving excess or deficiency in any channel automatically creates movement in the channel immediately before and after that channel.
The pain is located mostly on the Stomach channel at about ST 41/42; with some pain at about Liver 3. I have a couple of thoughts on why a general graph balancing treatment was effective.
First, notice how energy flows from channel to channel. The Spleen channel is excess. Think about the natural dynamics of excess in any channel. The channel before it would be slow, and possible the channel after it. It makes sense that there could be the beginning of pain accumulating in the Stomach channel because of a blockage which exists in the Spleen channel.
- The EXIT point of the Stomach channel is Stomach 42. (Exactly where the patient had pain.)
- The ENTRY point of the Spleen channel, which comes next in channel flow, is Spleen 1.
- If you draw a line between Stomach 42 and Spleen 1, you can’t help but cross Liver 3 (which is the other area where she had pain on the foot).
The good news is you don’t have to figure out all of the little nerdy channel pathway intricacies which I noticed above. It wasn’t necessary to even treat the exit point or the entry point to resolve the pain. All that really needed to be done to resolve the “forgotten foot pain” was treat the Excess in the Spleen channel. This simple treatment moved energy out of the Spleen channel, which then pulled energy from the Stomach channel, thus dissolving the foot pain in the process!
Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.
Acupuncture Research Analyst