The sensitization of acu-reflex points is a dynamic physiologic process consisting of three phases: latent, passive, and active.
Latent acu-reflex points represent normal, non-sensitized tissues. Passive acu-reflex points have a lower mechanical threshold than does normal tissue and start to fire impulses to the spinal cord and the brain upon normal pressure. The same amount of pressure does not induce impulses on latent points. Active acu-reflex points have the lowest mechanical threshold and continuously fire impulses to the spinal cord and the brain even without pressure, and this continuous firing may finally sensitize the neurons in the spinal cord and brain. As the mechanical threshold decreases, the physical size of a sensitized acu-reflex point increases. The transition from latent to passive phase or from passive to active phase is a continuous process without any clear demarcation, and so there is no quantitative measurement for differentiating acu-reflex points of different phases. The pressure used to palpate the acu-reflex points is usually about 2 to 3 lb (0.9 to 1.4 kg). In the clinic, the author uses the thumb to press the points; the pressure is about 2 to 3 lb when the thumbnail turns color from pinkish to whitish. However, there is no standard pressure for examination of acu-reflex points. The pressure used in palpation may need to be adjusted, inasmuch as some patients are less tolerant of pressure because their acu-reflex points are sensitive or painful, even before any pressure is applied.
In healthy people, most acu-reflex points are latent. In the presence of pathophysiologic disturbances, such as muscle injury, chronic pain, or disease, nonsensitive (latent) acu-reflex points are gradually transformed into sensitive (passive) acu-reflex points. Almost everyone has a number of passive acu-reflex points but are not consciously aware of them until an experienced practitioner palpates these points with a proper amount of pressure, at which time those locations may feel sensitive or painful. The majority of acu-reflex points encountered in clinical practice are passive acu-reflex points.
As pathologic disturbance continues to develop in the body, the pain becomes more intense, and finally passive acu-reflex points become active. Active acu-reflex points feel painful without any palpation, and patients are able to pinpoint the precise location of these points or areas.
According to clinical cases, direct and indirect events stimulate or activate the transition of acu-reflex points from latent to passive phases and from passive to active phases. Acute injuries, overuse fatigue, repetitive motion, compression of nerves such as radiculopathy, and joint dysfunctions such as arthritis directly turn the acu-reflex points sensitive. Fever, cold, visceral diseases (e.g., those in the heart, lung, gallbladder, and stomach), and emotional distress indirectly sensitize the acu-reflex points.
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