The Stubborn Graph: A Case Study 5/5 (54)

I was a stubborn child. My mother said she hoped someday I’d learn what it was like to raise a child just like me…

God has a sense of humor. We have been blessed with many stubborn children over the years. You’d think I’d learned my lesson about raising strong-willed children by now, right? Apparently not. He keeps blessing me with more and more opportunities to get it right and finally, with child #9, my mom’s wish came true. I not only have a stubborn child, but she is JUST AS stubborn as I was. My prayer at this point is that I learn my final lessons with her, so God doesn’t need to bless me with Child #10.

So, you are probably asking yourself what this story has to do with AcuGraph…???

Today I am going to talk about the stubborn graph. Graphs and kids actually have a lot in common…

  • Not all graphs are created equal.
  • Sometimes it’s easy to balance the graph.
  • Sometimes, it’s hard because of stubborn physiological circumstances.
  • You have to have multiple treatment strategies up your sleeve, because the same approach doesn’t always work.

I’ve been graphing patients for 8 years. I can tell you from experience that a stubborn graph is not uncommon.  Sometimes you have to be persistent and creative to balance the graph.

Here’s an interesting example.

Case Study

28 year-old female patient

Chief Complaint: Hemorrhoids and Low Back Pain

  • Hemorrhoids were acute. She had hemorrhoids 4 years ago when I treated her initially after childbirth, but nothing since.
  • Lower back pain on-and-off over the years, which is typically manageable with massage therapy and chiropractic.
  • Good diet.
  • Healthy weight.
  • TCM diagnosis: Blood stasis.

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 3.20.25 PM

It had been two years since I’d seen this patient. She hadn’t ever presented with a belt-block type graph before. I didn’t question it too much. I just assumed there was a difficulty with communication between the upper body and the lower body–this explained her hemorrhoids and lower back pain.

Treatment #1: Dai Mai treatment to balance the graph–TE 5, GB 41. Branch treatment for back pain and hemorrhoids.

Two days later, when she came for her second treatment, the graph didn’t change much. So I started asking more questions:

  • Shoulder tension?
  • Anxiety?
  • Phlegm and congestion?

She answered no to all of the above when I put her on the table to begin treatment. She popped her head up and said…. “Hey, I never did tell you I had breast augmentation surgery last year.”

BINGO!!!!! The graph finally made sense!

Breast Stagnation

Think about all of the channels that run through the breasts. After palpation around the breast, I found many areas of energetic stagnation related to surgery and the formation of scar tissue.

Treatment #2:  I changed my treatment approach. Instead of just treating the Dai Mai (TE 5, GB 41) and then moving on to branch treatment for low back pain and hemorrhoids, I added treatment for breast scar tissue with red laser and micro current.

NOTE: Of course I didn’t want to use needles because of the possibility of damaging her implants. Laser and microcurrent are my favorite types of treatment near the breasts for women who have had breast augmentation.

Once I found the “real problem” the patient was dealing with, I wound up getting better results with treatment.

Graph Analysis: 

Breast Stagnation graph 4 weeks

The picture above shows the graph progression over a four week period. There are a few things which I would like you to recognize.

1. The graph was stubborn. Even though I treated each week to balance the graph, it didn’t automatically progress to a better graph on the next visit.

NOTE: It can be normal for a graph to get worse before it gets better. Most of the time it gets better immediately, but sometimes it’s not so easy. Know this yourself, and prepare your patients for this possibility on their first visit. 

2. On the third visit, we finally got better results. This was AFTER I realized she had had breast augmentation surgery and began treatment of scar tissue blockages with red laser.

NOTE: I get asked all the time whether laser works. Yes, my friends… Laser works! It’s fantastic for kids, scar tissue, people who are afraid of needles, and areas where needles are not appropriate, as with breast augmentation!

3. Once we got good results on the third visit, the graph was STILL stubborn. Notice how it reverted back to bad again? But this is normal too. Sometimes it takes a little time to retrain the body to let go of the energetic pattern it is holding on to. Recognize that this is a possibility and it will be easier to explain graph changes to your patient.

4. By the fourth visit, I am recognizing that the body is really holding onto a Spleen excess condition. I decided to add an herbal formula at that point. I chose Bu Zhong Yi Qi Pian for Spleen Qi Deficiency which could be causing an damp condition, and sinking of the rectal region.

NOTE: Once you treat a patient for multiple visits and the same imbalance continues to come up, this is a good time to look at herbal, dietary and home lifestyle options to supplement treatment. 

5. Things finally eventually began to resolve as it took persistence on my part. I continued to balance the graph each time and I also continued to deal with her chief complaints. I had enough time to decide which herbal formula she might need to help deal with treating the problem from an internal aspect.


AcuGraph was a great resource for me to track the progress of this patient:

  • It helped me to recognize a problem that the patient had not disclosed during the initial intake.
  • It helped the patient to feel confident because she was able to see her progress on a computer screen.
  • She committed to a series of visits because I explained right from the beginning that it would take time.

Too bad I didn’t have a measuring device for dealing with stubborn kids! Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way. For me it took awhile. In the end, I’ve learned that patience and persistence are the key elements. Eventually, it all works out!

NOTE: You can use AcuGraph on stubborn kids when they come into your clinic too! Kids love AcuGraph! 


Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.

Acupuncture Research Analyst

Miridia Technology


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Dr. Kimberly Thompson, DACM, L.Ac.

Dr. Kimberly Thompson, DACM, L.Ac. is a US licensed acupuncturist in the state of Idaho and certified in the treatment of acupuncture, Oriental medicine and Chinese herbology by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Kimberly wears multiple hats in the acupuncture community. She owns her private clinic, Meridian Family Acupuncture. She has spent the last 10 years working for Miridia Technology as an acupuncture Research Analyst–where she helps plan, develop, and integrate modern diagnostic and treatment tools for the ever-evolving scientific world of acupuncture. Kimberly is a world-renown teacher, blogger, columnist, and mentor in the acupuncture community.

6 Replies to “The Stubborn Graph: A Case Study

  1. Kimberly, thank-you for sharing your case with us. Several things resonated while I was reading your article.

    1. I also have a pt. who has a persistent excessive Sp. She came to see me because she had not had a period for 8 months. She also had a belt block which disappeared after a few treatments balancing the graph and working with the chief complaint (besides other minor complaints). It took about 2 months once per week treatments for her to get her period back. She has gotten a lot better and has had 3 regular periods now, but still somewhat late. She now only comes once per month, but every time her graph shows excess on spleen. I have her on Xiao Yao San & Si Jun Zi Tang (for Qi Stag. & Bld def.) I wonder what to do about the persistent excessive Sp.

    2. Another pt. comes for plantar fasciitis on both feet. She had surgery back in September 2015 where they did a complete hysterectomy (also ovaries) and removed a lot of her stomach fatty tissue, etc. She was open from side to side, and up to her chest internally. She started having problems with her feet, lower back, and hip after that. She has 3 spurs in both calcaneous. She also presented with a belt block, and I balance the graph every time. Also, I learned later that her abdominal area was numb around the umbilicus to about the Sp. meridian and from Ren 12. to Ren 2. I have been using the red laser and local needling around her abdominal area, and after about 6-8 txs, her sensitivity is back almost everywhere, except right under the scar: Ren 3, 2. Her graph no longer shows the belt block, but it is still pretty unstable. The pain in her feet has also decreased from 9/10 pain level to maximum 4/10, and her back & hip have gotten better. She is a school art teacher and is on her feet a lot. She also has a persistent excessive Sp., and overweight.

    1. In the future I’d like to do a blog/webinar on stubborn spleen channels. I’ve come up with a few strategies over the years. Excess in the spleen is typically due to damp and it can be hard to overcome. I believe that acupuncture is only one avenue in this problem but you have to come at it from different approaches. As far as acupuncture ONLY you might want to try needling Sp 6, 7, 8 and 9. Sometimes that will make the big push you are striving for in an excess spleen.

  2. I found this blog very interesting and helpful to understand the AcuGraph results and your fine strategy of working with it. Thank you Kimberly. I am looking forward to one of your next blogs about dampness in the Spleen.


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