☯ Two Rules of Thumb to Remember When Locating Sacral Foramen

Finding the points located in the sacral foramen (UB 31- 34) can be challenging. When I began studying acupuncture I found locating these points maddening. Because of my experience I spend a lot of time working with students to help them demystify these important points.    

To locate these spaces one needs to palpate through layers of tissue. The foramen feel like soft depressions or "holes" in the bone. The trick to remember is the holes are not similar from one to the next. 

Two good rules of thumb to remember are: 

  1. They are not perfectly evenly spaced. Some are close together and others are further away. 
  2. The size of the foramen change from one to another. 

It is good the remember that the foramen are not equally sized and equally spaced. The size and space can vary considerably. Remembering the likelihood of the size and spacing varying will make finding and needling these points much easier. 

☯ One Trick to Counting Spinal Vertebra

One of the frustrating aspects of point location is counting the vertebrae. We need to do this when locating the Back Shu points or the Du Mai points.  

The difficulty is created by the fact that the spinous process of each vertebra is at a different angle. There is a natural tendency when counting the vertebrae to imagine each spinous process lying at a 90 degree angle to the body. However, these bony protrusions do not all each lie at a 90 degree angle. 

Dinosaur Spinous Process

Many spinous processes emerge from the body at sharper angles, sometimes as much as 45 degrees. When this occurs the spinous process will partially cover the body of the NEXT vertebra. 

counting vertebra image.jpg

This overlapping most often occurs in the midback between T6 and T12. (Right at the levels of the Liver, Gallbladder, Spleen, and Stomach Back Shu points!) 

I have found one technique to counting vertebrae useful in both my personal practice and teaching students. Rather than only looking for the pointy spinous process — palpate the sides of each vertebra with a finger on each side. 

This technique allows you to feel the bodies of each vertebra. It keeps you from being thrown off when the spinous process is overlapping with the body below it. If you use this technique, and also count the spinous processes, the two techniques together make counting the vertebrae and finding the Back Shu Points much, much easier.