The interplay of the above factors (and others) in a particular person will lay the foundation for their current complaint. For this reason an acupuncturist will ask not only details of the immediate problem, but also take a full case history of past illnesses, family tendencies, general energy level, etc., as well as assessing the functioning of all the body systems. In this way a complete picture is built up so that the present disorder can be seen in perspective.

This rounded and comprehensive approach is completed by careful observation of the patient's colour, face and body features and particular diagnosis from the pulse and tongue.
The tongue is examined for its shape, colour, movement and coating.
The pulse is taken at the radial artery on both wrists and felt in 12 different positions, related to the 12 main organs and their corresponding meridians. It is assessed for its speed, strength, and quality, there being 28 traditional qualities, each of which gives specific indications on a person's state of health.
With the pulse, as with the tongue, the practitioner assesses the patient as a whole person, not just focussing on one part of the body nor just on their current complaint but trying always to see the whole picture and the person behind it.