Master Tung Points, the Urinary Bladder Meridian, and the Superficial Back Line
The Master Tung points on the bladder channel are primarily characterized by treating neck and back pain, and are very effective for these conditions. Perhaps the most popular Tung points near the UB channel, are the points on the achilles tendon: 77.01, 77.02, 77.03, 77.04. As these points are directly on the tendon and image the neck, they are very effective for cervical conditions involving the connective tissues, bones, and tendons. These points are also very effective for acute neck injuries such as with whiplash, as well as chronic and difficult to treat conditions. When pain is confined to the area of the cervical vertebrae, and located on the UB or DU channel, these are primary points to use.
Very closely related to the points on the achilles tendon, are the Seven Tigers, which are located between the UB and GB meridians. They are also effective for lateral neck pain, and treat scapular and lateral clavicle pain, as well as pain in the area of GB 21. Since the Seven Tigers are located between the UB and GB channels, they are also indicated for pain in the GB meridian in the area of the upper trapezius and ribs.
In regards to the fascial planes, the UB channel is related to the superficial back line (SBL).
The Superficial Back Line (SBL)
In terms of the connective tissue associations with the meridians, the UB channel and SBL reveal the most straightforward explanation for a fascial tissue mechanism playing a part in acupuncture therapy. The achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, and the superficial back line is the most easy fascial plane to trace. This tendon plays a primary role in the function of the legs, feet, and knees. It is responsible for plantar flexion, bending of the knees, and it connects the gastrocnemius, soleus, and plantaris muscles to the heel.
In a neurological examination using a tendon hammer, the tendon reflexes of the achilles tendon test for the S1 and S2 spinal nerves, and the absence of an achilles reflex reflects a herniation at L5 - S1. From the sacrum to the occiput, the sacrolumbar fascia, erector spinae, and para spinal muscles traverse the vertebrae, to give structural and muscular support to the whole spine.
The concept of using one end of the meridian, to treat the opposite end of the meridian, can be easily explained as occurring through the connective tissues when we examine the SBL. Additionally, the therapeutic effect that occurs through the fascial system, not only occurs in the vertical lines from the achilles tendon to the occipital ridge; but it also likely occurs in horizontal transverse lines from the superficial regions of the muscular fascia, to the deeper levels of other muscles and tissues. It is even feasible that the mechanical forces generated by the needle, and working through the connective tissues, could reach the fascia surrounding the spinal cord, brain, and CNS.
For instance, a condition of muscular tension and nerve entrapment in the area of the cervical transverse spinal processes, may transfer mechanical tension from the cervical muscles to the nerve roots, and possibly even into the next level of tissues in the fibrous meninges. The fascial networks around the vertebrae, will also connect with the deeper fascia of the CNS, and with the UB channel and SBL. Thus, points like 77.01 - 77.04 may also be able to influence higher nervous system conditions through this mechanical mechanism. This may be why these points are also indicated for more serious CNS diseases like head injuries, brain tumors, concussions, and hydrocephalus.
The client was a 40 year old woman with a pituitary adenoma, her main complaint in relation to the tumor was occipital headaches that would spread through the neck, and entire head when severe. The tumor was pressing on the optic nerve, and had been drained of fluid in a surgery five years prior. The surgery was very difficult for the patient, and she was taking a very proactive and integrative approach to prevent further surgery and drainage of the tumor.
At the time of receiving acupuncture she was going through a particularly difficult time, and the headaches and neck pain were becoming a regular and daily occurrence. She feared it could become much worse, and had been through several previous bouts of severe pain. She wanted to see if acupuncture could prevent the progression of the symptoms, and reduce the swelling of the tumor. She knew that when the tumor was swollen it would cause blurry vision, but it had not progressed so far as for her to report any major visual disturbances, but she felt as if she may be on the verge of having some.
As the primary symptoms were located in the occipital region of the skull, and extended into the upper neck and UB channel, 77.01 - 77.03 were needled. As these points are also indicated for brain tumors, hydrocephalus, and neck pain, they were the primary points selected. The patient also had a small body, and was very needle sensitive. When asked about secondary or tertiary concerns, she commented that she only wanted help with this, and that otherwise her health was fine. After doing a health history a tai yang - shao yin pattern was identified.
The client reported relief of the symptoms after the first treatment, by about 30 - 40%. Two days later a follow up treatment was done, and the client reported that some of the symptoms had returned, but that overall the treatment seemed to be working. After the second treatment, the patient reported very good results, and felt we had stopped it from progressing. Six more sessions were given over the next three weeks, and by the second week the client had only very minor symptoms. By the end of the third week the client was symptom free.
As we know from her medical reports and history, the tumor was at risk of pressing on her optic nerve, and causing severe visual disturbances. When she came in for the acupuncture she felt as if they may possibly return. Over the course of one month, and eight sessions, the painful symptoms in the neck and head stopped and the patient returned to her normal lifestyle.
Learn more about the Master Tung and Fascial Plane Course
Image from: Anatomy Trains, Tom Myers, Elsevier Publishing