Motor Point Acupuncture

Motor Point Acupuncture

The motor point in muscle is the junction where the motor nerve innervates the skeletal muscle. It’s the end point of all the neural processes which cause the contraction of skeletal muscle. The three most important factors that influence this clinical phenomenon will improve clinical results.

Pain, and Joint Changes

Pain can adversely affect the motor neuron, causing a weaker muscle contraction.  Chronic pain results in delay of the nerve firing and a reduced activity of the pained muscle.  This pain-induced motor inhibition might prevent effective retraining.

Lund (1999) described a lack of sensorimotor integration or “dysfunction” that occurs between the agonist and antagonist during musculoskeletal pain. This adaptation was also observed by Svennson (1996), where he concluded the observed sensory-motor interactions can be explained by a neuronal reflex whereby neural drive is decreased via reciprocal inhibition, which prevents the maximal firing in the region of injury.

And lastly, changes in spinal and peripheral joints can also cause motor inhibition. This phenomenon (Hurley 1997) has been attributed to neuronal reflex activity in which altered, afferent input from the arthritic joint results in diminished efferent motor drive to muscles that support that joint. Horre (2006) concluded this is from changes in joint structures (osteoarthritis) in which nociception is projected via interneurons onto alpha motoneurons in the spinal cord, which trigger peripheral muscle inhibition.

Restoring Motor Inhibition

The work of several researchers (Staud 2006, Hong, 2002, Gunn, 1980, Lewit 1979) has built the foundation for the growing use of Functional Motor Point Acupuncture to restore motor inhibition. Gribble (2005) concluded that muscle groups in the proximal skeletal girdle of the kinetic chain were associated with strength deficits from distal joint injuries, and Bullock-Saxton (1994) noted the influence of distal joint injury on muscle activation of proximal muscles of the pelvic girdle. For example, you can have a patient with low back pain who has an inhibited gluteus maximus muscle brought on by an old ankle sprain or a jammed wrist, which causes inhibition of the scapular girdle. In this case, locating and stimulating the neuromuscular junction or “motor point” of the inhibited tissue will help restore dysfunction. This dysfunction can be restored by using an acupuncture needle directly on the motor point with or without the use of electricity.

For questions about motor point acupuncture, please email Dr. Lombardi or via