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An Introduction to Acupuncture cont...The finer points

An introduction to understanding the principles of Acupuncture including a brief description of the key functions of the muscles and vertebrae and how they affect your mobility and generate pain. Four key points are briefly explained on this page;


What is a Motor Point? A motor point is defined as an area that is highly excitable. A motor point lies in the skin over the zone of innervation where the motor nerve branch enters the muscle tissue. When traumatized, they can cause ‘muscle spindle dysfunction’ leading to an imbalance in opposing muscle groups and impair communication to the Central Nervous System. They can create vertebral fixations causing both reduced mobility and flexibility of the entire spine.


What is a Trigger Point? Trigger points are shortened, knotted up muscle fibres that impinge blood vessels and nerves that leads to pain, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness and restricted joint mobility. They can be involved in any tendonitis or any repetitive strain injury, major or minor trauma and are frequently involved in deep joint pain and even subluxations of the spine. Needling the motor points, as well as the adjacent trigger points can be very effective in resolving musculo skeletal pain and restoring joint movement and function. Trigger points can cause a shortening of the entire muscle!


The more trigger points in one muscle the greater the strain and pull on the tendons. Tendons have less elasticity than muscle fibres do, therefore if the pull on the muscle’s tendon becomes to much due to an overall shortening of the entire muscle due to trigger point activity, this can possibly lead to problems of tendonitis and joint rotation and even vertebral fixation complex.


Trigger points are commonly referred to as ‘Ah-Shi points (‘points of pain’) and have been treated for thousands of years in Chinese Medicine.


What is a Muscle Spindle? Muscle spindles are very small specialized sensory receptors scattered throughout all the muscles of the body. They act as the ‘communicators’ between the periphery and the central nervous system about your body’s movements and joint position. Muscle spindles keep your muscles and joints in correct position and doing what you want them to do - when you ask them to do it.

Malfunctioning muscle spindles due to irritated motor points and active trigger points caused by repetitive movements or injuries, may create a shortening in one muscle and elongation (over stretching) of the opposite/antagonist muscle and this leads to an inability for the joint to return to normal function or a normal neutral position.  This causes pain, reduced flexibility and weakness.

What is a Vertebral Fixation? A vertebral fixation complex involves at least 2 or 3 vertebrae ‘locked together’ and this creates restricted motion in the spine affecting the musculature of the back. A vertebral fixation complex will often involve the muscles that are innervated by the nerves that leave the involved vertebrae causing pain in other muscles further away from the spine and also affecting organs. Each vertebrae has it’s own motor point.

Go to; Conditions Acupuncture is Good For page for common conditions treated with musculo-skeletal acupuncture



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