Differentiation helps a Chinese medical doctor choose which acupuncture points should be used and what other methods to use, such as moxibustion or Chinese herbal formula etc. Below are some common types of differentiation
Invasion of pathogenic cold
Stomach pain occurs suddenly. Patients dislike cold but seek warmth. They like to apply a warm pad to their stomach to reduce some pain. They dont feel thirsty but may like to drink some warm water or soup. The patients tongue coating is white and their pulses are tight.
Retention of food
Patients feel the distension of or even pain in the epigastrium, which is aggravated by pressure or after meals. Belching with fetid odor or anorexia may be symptoms. They may vomit with undigested food. After vomiting the pain may reduce. Patients usually have a thick, sticky tongue coating and deep, forceful or rolling pulse.
The liver Chi attacks the stomach
Patients feel abdominal distension and pain in the epigastrium, which radiates to the hypochondriac regions. They belch frequently. Some patients may notice that their anger or mental depression would trigger the pain. The patients tongue coating is usually white thin. Their pulses are string-taut.
Liver and stomach heat
Patients feel stomach pain with burning sensation. They may also have the symptom of vexation, irascibility, and acid reflux, clamoring stomach and thirst or bitter taste in the mouth. Patients tongues are red with yellow coating. Their pulses may be string-taut or fast.
Yin deficiency of stomach
Patients feel dull pain in the stomach. They also have dry mouth and throat. They may feel thirst but dont want to drink a lot of water. They may also be constipated. Some of them may have diarrhea. Their tongues are red and lack moisture. Patients usually have thin and rapid pulses.
Patients feel stomach pain in a fixed location. The pains may be like the stabbing of a needle or cutting of a knife. The pains occur or worsen after a meal. Some patients may vomit blood or have black stool. Their tongues may look dark purple. They usually have rough pulses.
Spleen-stomach cold deficiency
Patients of this type usually feel dull pain in their stomachs. They may feel more pain when their stomachs are empty; after eating the pains are probably reduced. They often have decreased appetite. They probably have clear watery reflux. They may like warmth or pressure on their stomachs. Patients often feel tired and lack of warmth in their extremities. Their tongues are pale and pulses are weak.
After reading the above, patients may have some ideas about their pains from a Chinese medical perspective, or they may still be unsure what type of pain they have. It is important to realize that it could be a combination of types or that it may transform from one type to another.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are complementary and alternative choices in which many patients have found pain relief.