Acupuncture for the Spine

Acupuncture has been used to treat the spine for thousands of years

Acupuncture has been used to treat the spine for thousands of years

This year World Spine Day falls on October 16th and I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss how acupuncture has been used over the centuries in the treatment of the spine.

The ancient Chinese medical text, the Nei Jing, states that the spleen controls the spine. This is exemplified in the traditional recorded use of the acupuncture point yin bai on the spleen meridian, which is used  to treat a crooked spine.

Can acupuncture treat scoliosis?

Giovanni Maciocia, an internationally renown author and translator of Chinese medicine texts,  has written that he has used this point successfully in the treatment of scoliosis. There is a meridian, the du meridian, sometimes translated as the Governing vessel, which runs the whole way up the spine which is used in many complaints associated with the spine. For example, the Governing vessel may be selected for herniated disc, back sprain or scoliosis. The acupuncture points used to activate the circulation of this meridian are not actually near the spine but in the wrist and foot! 

What are the Hua Tuo Jia Jia points on the spine? 

There are another set of well known acupuncture points known as the Hua Tuo Jia Jia points and they were first discussed and their uses documented by the ancient physician Hua Tuo in 110 A.D. These points run down the spine about one cm from the midline of the spinous processes. What is really interesting about the functions of these points is that they correspond to the modern day chiropractic view of nerve root outlets from the spine corresponding to internal organs. For example, manipulation of the third thoracic vertebra can be used to treat  the lung and bronchi, pleura, chest and breast. Using acupuncture to stimulate the Hua Tuo Jia Jia point at this level has had a recorded use of treating lung problems for nearly 2000 years. Through the use of needling other Hua Tuo acupuncture points of the spine a whole host of internal problems can be addressed including tiredness, headaches, insomnia, stomach problems and so forth. Just about any symptom according to classical texts can be tackled by using the Hua Tuo acupuncture points.

What about the muscles either side of the spine?

The paravertebral muscles run down either side of the spine and the bladder meridian runs down through here on which are some of the key most important acupuncture points used by acupuncture practitioners known as the Shu Points. There is a Shu point for each major organ of the body such as the lungs in the upper torso and kidneys in the lower part of the body. 

How important are these Shu acupuncture points either side of the spine? 

We ask Alan Jansson, a Queensland based acupuncturist specializing in traditional Japanese needling techniques taught to him by Ikeda Sensei, a world renowned practitioner and author. Alan says “There would not be a day gone by where I have not needled the shu points either side of the spine. They have a powerful effect of going straight to the main internal organ. In particular, I use a lot of ondan [a technique where warmth is applied to the acupuncture point] on the kidney points in the lower back to address chronic back pain issues“. Alan Jansson will be returning to New Zealand for the seventh time to deliver an acupuncture workshop in Auckland in February 2017. 

Griselda Mason of the Hastings Chiropractic Clinic will be joining me for a radio show with Ken Morrison on Tuesday 18th October at 11am on Radio Kidnappers 1431AM or 104.7 FM where we will be talking about how acupuncture and chiropractic can work together to help the spine. 

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About Heiko Lade

Hi, I'm Heiko Lade - qualified acupuncturist at The Acupuncture Clinic in Hastings, New Zealand. If you would like to make an appointment for a consultation and treatment, please contact me.


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