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Acupuncture Tattoos


Hello Everyone,

I am planning to get an octopus tattoo on my back and I thought it would be a good idea to have the tentacles run over some acupuncture meridians. I know this isn't the same as treatment, but thought that having the tattoos run over some key points for my various, incessant pains, might at least make it easier to find good relief points that my partner or someone not specifically trained could easily find for purposes of massage.

And I'm not sure if accupressure points are completely different than acupuncture points, but thought I would join a forum and see if I could get some basic advice of some easy to find points or good book recommendations.

I have chronic neck pain which was from a car accident years ago. It was made worse by bad exercise form, which I have since corrected, and from working at a desk job for so many years. My body pitches forward more than it should, so I get acupuncture done for the pain and work with a physical therapist to help prevent bad posture and good exercise form. I'm confident that acupuncture could help more than just pain relief, but I like to use a wide variety of health professionals. I also have arthritis in my lower back and hips (ankylosing spondylitis).

I'm hoping someone here can give me few good points that address these kinds of pains (the neck one especially - I've learned to deal with the arthritis, but the neck pain is so close to my head, I lose focus rather easily). Right now I'm trying to use this google book to find some basic points, but it's been going over my head.

So in summation, and I know this was kind of a long post, can anyone please tell me what points would be good for neck and lower back pain? I can provide details about anything if they're needed - just let me know. The octopus head and body are going to be over my right shoulder blade so I can reach basically any points along my back, most of my neck, some of my right shoulder, etc... with the tentacles.

Thank You :]


If you click on the links automatically created above for "back pain" and "neck pain" you will find what you are looking for. On each of the pages scroll down near the bottom of the page on the left to the section "acupuncture treatment protocols". Click on each of those and you will find all of the standard points.

Acupressure and acupuncture all use the same points although some are far more applicable and effective with needling than acupressure. With regards to the effects of the tattoo - these will be extremely minimal and basically only during the creation of the tattoo, so I would focus more on a good design than where the points are.

For your overall health, however, I would recommend regular acupuncture treatment from a licensed professional.


Blocks the flow of energy of the meridian that pass on the tatto place. As my teacher tought me.


Points : Si 3, Ub 10-25, 40-52, 57. Du 3, 14.

Do deep tissue back Tuina after acupunture those points, then put on Tcm pain killer patches on

the neck and back for 8 hours a day, each day should change patches, during 7 days, you will

feel better.


There certainly are many opinions on this issue as well as with piercings, surgeries, etc. While everyone is entitled to one, I just want to clarify mine - I firmly believe that tattoos particularly, as well as piercings/surgeries, etc. do not cause permanent damage of any kind to the meridians. Sometimes you have to step back from the mystery of this medicine and just think clearly instead of theoretically. If tattoos caused problems with the meridians people with tattoos all over their body would be sick all the time, have all kinds of health issues, etc. - but the truth is that they don&#39t. Same goes for piercings and surgeries.

Why is this? Well part of it is people seem to feel the meridians are 100% fixed - but they are alive just as we are and can accomodate changes. Plus the meridians that we use with acupuncture on the skin are only a small aspect of the entire channel (there are internal channels, relationships to internal organs, etc.) none of which are going to be effected for any length of time by some ink on your skin.

Now surgeries and piercings may be slightly different because of the trauma aspect of the body. But I have a faith in the system of the body that it can overcome these -- easily. Same logic as above, do people who have had multiple surgeries have lots of illness? The answer is no. Now there might be some reasons why they needed both their knees replaced but that has nothing to do with the scars from the surgery on their knees (for example) - it has to do with things that pre-existed the surgical intervention. And I&#39ve yet to see someone with knee surgery develop appendicitis because of a scar near lanweixue... Or someone with a piercing in shen men become enlightened for that matter...

Surgery and meridians

Hey Chad,</div>
I&#39m speaking from my experience and my friends experience. we both have tattoos in certain places that affects on the meridian that pass there.</div>
I thought you knew about that, since the teacher that taught me about it was Japanese acupuncturist and he does the technique of needles "sew" the tattoo/scar in order to bring back balance to the area.</div>
Well, certainly no one died from that, but since you do a lot of things to improve your life style and quality, you should also be aware that tattoo is damaging the skin and also hurt the meridian. It can show itself in different ways for each one – traditionally by Chinese medicine diagnosis.</div>
Same thing also with scar after surgery. The surgery can be closed good with a good scar that does not damage later the organs or layers under it or the surgery can end with a scar that can lead to a lot of other problems for the person.</div>
You never met a person in your clinic with a scar that you&#39re sure the person that sew it took piece of muscle or organ that’s under it?</div>
When you come to think about it, it&#39s very logical.</div>
If you believe that there is a flow of energy in the meridian and as you said the skin is an aspect from the channel, (and if I may add the energy is also above the skin, but that’s a different topic and you don&#39t seem to be spiritual person :) ) so hurting one aspect will cause not 100% pure flowing of the energy.</div>
What will be the clinic? I don&#39t know, it&#39s individual.</div>
In my clinic I will pay attention and keep it in mind, not putting it as main target or as main thing to treat – unless it has straight connection with the complaint the patient came with.</div>


Like I said when I commented there are many different opinions on the matter - some see it as crucially important and others less so. Even, for example, the Japanese acupuncturist you mention who "fixes" the qi around the scar - the scar is still there right? but somehow he/she has "fixed" the qi - who is to say the body cannot do the same thing - and what criteria is he/she using to verify that is has been "fixed".

You know I don&#39t know why discussions on the internet always end up in some sort of personal attack. When you say "you don&#39t seem to be spiritual person" - first of all what does this have to do with a technical/theoretical discussion of Chinese Medicine and second of all do you actually know me at all? The answers to that are nothing and no... Just because I don&#39t go crazy with fascination at every theory within Chinese Medicine doesn&#39t mean I&#39m not "spiritual." There are lots of gimmicks and plenty of ways to make yourself and your work seem more important than it really is in this field. In other words, it is far too easy to feel overly empowered by this medicine and begin thinking that we know everything and even the body is less intelligent than us. I just don&#39t believe that.

Listen to a few things you said:

"so hurting one aspect will cause not 100% pure flowing of the energy.

What will be the clinic [outcome]? I don&#39t know, it&#39s individual."</div>
You are right - you don&#39t know - so why would anyone feel comfortable making a blanket statement that says tattoos (that is "all tattoos") will cause problems - which, by the way, was all I was commenting on so as to not spread misinformation - was the blanket&#39ness of your statement not whether it is right or wrong. Like the Japanese acupuncturist above who "fixes" this - again, why cannot the body do it.</div>
Then you say "keep it in mind, not putting it as main target or as main thing to treat" - if it does cause problems in your mind why wouldn&#39t you treat it everytime. If you are going to treat it, however, when and what criteria are you using to say when the qi in the area is "fixed" - will this happens 10 years after the tattoo on it&#39s own, etc. Again, criteria and verified results are important in this medicine.</div>

An important thing in my mind on these public forums is not to spread misinformation to the many people that are just learning about acupuncture. The truth is we don&#39t know what happens with tattoos, piercings, etc. Logic would tell us that since people don&#39t get sick from tattoos that very little happens, but that could be wrong (why there are different opinions on the matter).

When you are going to go out on a limb and say a blanket statment such as yours when you said "Blocks the flow of energy of the meridian that pass on the tatto place" - you better be able to quantify that. Blocks it how, for how long, what, if anything, needs to be done. This is science we are working with after all not some kind of pseudo-medicine.</li>
But with regards to your I&#39m not spiritual comment, if I can gather what you are referring to is that I might not believe in "qi" or something along those lines? If you noticed I happen to also be an energy healer among other things. And while I obviously would have to believe in certain theories to do that kind of work I do not swallow everything that comes my way - we verify it with science and clinically reproducible results. It&#39s a wrong assumption (again in my opinion) to think that one part of Chinese Medicine is science/mechanical and one part "spiritual" - it&#39s all the same thing. But it is verified with science. When you do this you can constantly repeat results clinically - which is the whole point after all. When it is not science your clinical results are hit and miss.</div>
I&#39m going to leave this discussion as is, but am only concerned by having everyone with tattoos start running into their acupuncturist office for no good reason. Again we all have and are entitled to different opinions. Just look clinically for the evidence not just on hearsay or some ancient and wonderful theory.</div>


First, the TCM meridian is not only on or above the skin, it also under the skin inside the muscle and connect to internal organs and other meridians like web, so I don&#39t believe the tatoo scar will block the energy move in the meridian.

Second, the Tatoo picture also has energy, one is basic on the Tatoo master&#39s energy level, the other one is the meaning of the Tatoo picture, if it is beautiful has good luck meaning, even it can bring health energy to the body.


got it, thanks! i used to get regular treatments, but i&#39ve returned to school so my cash flow is minimal. i was planning to get the tattoo anyway so i thought i&#39d look into the acupuncture part of it, even if it was not significant in terms of treatment.

thanks again :]


fantastic, thanks!


i have no medical knowledge of the subject, but i do know that the brain can subjugate anything in the body. i believe that tattooing has or at least can have some benefit, however temporary, for this kind of thing and unless my thinking changes, the benefit will come.

an old diving instructor i had had benefit from a similar situation so i started researching it for kicks and came across oetzi, the iceman who had tattoos all over his body. upon examination by different acupuncture and medical experts, they came to the conclusion that the tattoos were overlapping common meridians for different ailments. and proof of similar things exist in ancient civilizations so even if it has no benefit, i don&#39t believe it will have a negative impact.

my research, although done without insight into the field, was done working with the library of congress and using some of their amazing resources on this stuff so i&#39m going to keep believing the benefit of it. thanks you all for your input and information!



As a novice, I am greatly encouraged with all of those practcioner&#39s passion for this fantastic endeavor to search out healing/treatment techniques for those in need. I have been perusing different discussions and have been elated with the passion of all who practice, support, and research techniques. Thank you all who blessed me with more knowledge than I had yesterday. "Whosoever ceases to be a student has never been a student" ~ George Iles


As I mentioned in another forum post. I used to live in Japan. There is a tattoo culture there that goes back a very long time. And to make a long story short, I have a traditional Japanese "body suit" tattoo. As a student of acupucture and from personal experience, I do not belive that tattoos block or hurt the meridian in anyway. If anyone says other wise, it is most likely them being conservative. A tattoo cannot even be compared to something like surgery. The tattoo needle pokes the skin and does not even penetrate all 3 layers of skin, so its pretty superficial.


I like to think that meridians flow in a less than permanent manner, such as waterways. What happens when a large rock is placed in a river? The water flows around it. Only when the rock is large enough does the water cease to flow.

Tattoos are not much interference compared to deep scar tissue; however we may be effected energetically on some small level. Though, I feel the body is capable of working its way around these things, especially via the depth meridians flow ( extra ordinary channels lie deep within the body and merdians flow at a depth deeper than the dermis)

It does make me wonder though, about tattoos and vitamin production/absorption. ... ??


Chad you&#39re a difficult man to disagree with. Your thoughtful and patient replies are always firmly rooted in common sense and I always enjoy reading a straightforward reply to a potential divisive question. Many thanks for a superb website.


My wife had a belly button piercing which ripped slightly, causing some scarring. When she was pregnant, the linea negra (which is interesting in itself, in that it appears during pregnancy and follows the ren / conception vessel) could be clearly seen deviating around the scar.

Anecdotal though this is, I think it demonstrates the ability/tendency of the meridians to deviate around scar tissue, where possible. I&#39ve not found any evidence that this has caused any problems in her case.

I now take care to palpate for any deviation in channels where there has been a piercing / operation / scar as this may affect point locations etc.

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