Although an acupuncture needle penetrates the skin, subcutaneous tissue, and underlying muscle, the most effective locus for the somatic acupoint on the needle path is not well established. We therefore investigated the sensory innervations of tissues in the needle path of the canine Shen-Shu point and evaluated their roles in initiating an acupunctural signal. Horseradish peroxidase solution was injected at all three levels within the acupoint. Only a few peroxidase-positive neurons were observed in the L1 dorsal root ganglion following intradermal injection. Following subcutaneous injection, peroxidase-labeled neurons were detected extending from spinal levels T10 to L2, with maximal labeling at T12 (46.3%). Approximately 95% of positive neurons were at spinal levels T11, T12, T13, and L1. As a result of an intramuscular injection, labeled neurons were observed at spinal levels T12 to L3, with most labeling occurring at L1 (39.9%). Approximately 95% of positive neurons were at spinal levels T13, L1, and L2. The results suggest that most afferent terminals are in the subcutaneous tissue rather than the muscular tissue, with an approximate ratio of 3.75:1. The data provide solid evidence that sensory innervation to a somatic acupoint is confined to a spinal segment and spatially organized, and we speculate that to cause a maximum effect, the centripetally transmitted signal from needling a somatic acupoint is spatio-segmental and divergently amplified.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Complementary and alternative medicine