Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses four key observations during the patient exam. First Health Associates explores TCM’s Four Pillars of Diagnoses.
Are the days of the physical exam being replaced with high-tech diagnostic tools? Many doctors feel that critical physical diagnosis skills are taking a back seat to more expensive, often unnecessary, tests. To the contrary, the physical exam has long been the core of Traditional Chinese Medicine’s diagnostic methodology.
Thousands of years ago, long before high-tech diagnostic tools were even a dream, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners developed a system for diagnosing ailments. Often referred to as the Four Pillars, these tried-and-true methods have been passed on through generations of TCM practitioners. Today, using these four pillars, a highly-skilled acupuncturist expertly identifies specific signs and symptoms that lead to diagnosis and acupuncture treatment.
FOUR PILLARS OF TCM DIAGNOSIS
The Four Pillars, also called the four examinations, are:
- Looking – A skilled TCM practitioner or acupuncturist learns a lot by simply observing the patient. They note the color and luster of the skin. They examine the tongue’s shape, texture and moisture level. In addition, they observe the eyes and ears and watch the patient’s movements and mannerisms.
- Listening – There are five types of sound used to classify the voice in TCM. They are: shout, laugh, sing, weep and groan. Each one of these voice types corresponds to different organs in the body. The sound of the voice can offer insight into potential ailments in one of the body’s systems.
- Touching – Often referred to as palpation, this pillar involves feeling, or palpating, various pulse points on the body, including the radial artery. The practitioner notes the state of the pulse. For example, a pulse can be choppy, rapid or strong. The characteristic of the pulse provides important information about the patient’s physical and mental state. They are also looking for areas of the body that are tender or painful, hot or cold, swollen, sweaty or discolored.
- Asking – Finally, the practitioner will ask a series of questions. They will want to know specifically about the main complaint. But, they will also inquire about a range of other subjects including sleep habits and appetite.
EXTERNAL SYMPTOMS LINKED TO INTERNAL BODY IMBALANCES
These four diagnostic tools give the practitioner a good understanding of the patient’s external symptoms. In TCM, these external symptoms are linked to imbalances in the body. The practitioner uses these symptoms to identify the imbalances, diagnose the problem, and develop a treatment plan. The treatment plan may include a variety of TCM modalities, such as acupuncture, cupping or herbs.
Since 1981, First Health Associates has been providing exceptional health care to residents of Arlington Heights, Mt. Prospect, Schaumburg, Buffalo Grove, Rolling Meadows, Palatine, Elk Grove and Des Plaines. Our Arlington Heights acupuncturist is rated one of the best in the Chicagoland area. First Health is an integrative medicine practice that offers: Medical Care; Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine; Counseling and Behavioral Therapy; and Chiropractic Care.
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