If you have some big ouch points in your spine and can't afford a TuiNa therapist, can your spouse work on you?
How do you know when a blockage is opened...(no more ouch)?
Once opened, can you keep it open with Tong Ren?
Can you open it alone with TR if its big, thru repetition?
Yes using the doll/hammer and having a family member/friend work on the areas of concern is helpful. While there is a difference as far as technique and energetic sensitivity between professional practitioners and lay people, anything that facilitates the free flow of energy in the body is helpful.
With regards to the opening of a blockage. Yes, generally, no pain in the area means the area is free. For people with a history of a specific illness or condition we will often return to those points within a treatment even if there is no pressure pain or other indication of a blockage.
The size of the blockage is no limitation of any technique and is often not even an indicator of the time it will take to treat the area. Many relatively large blockages clear quickly and many small blockages may take much longer to treat. The removal of blockages is related to a host of factors including your overall health, your lifestyle habits, what other activities you perform on a regular basis, etc.