I'm an anatomist from the US living and working in in Sweden. I'm a member of the Swedish national Branch Council for Massage and have been instrumental in organizing a national exam for the masseur level. Recently, the exam hosted several questions where "origin" and "insertion" of muscles were replaced by "attachment points". When I protested this, I was told that the terms "origin" and "insertion" were no longer to be used, and had been internationally replaced by "attachment points". I'd like to have a professional reply from outside of Sweden as to what is going on here.
As you know, each muscle (usually) has a bony attachment at both ends, called the origin and insertion. The point of origin is the point of attachment where the muscle is anchored to the bone. The point of insertion is the attachment of the muscle (usually) to the bone it moves. I used the term "usually" because there are muscles that insert into the subcutaneous tissue, such as muscles of facial expression and the palmaris brevis muscle.
I have also noticed a trend toward moving from origin and insertion to attachment points, but I haven't seen any literature on this change. Personally, I don't mind the change because the goal of the muscles is to shorten and depending upon the actions of an individual the bone being moved can change. For example, the psoas major muscle flexes the femur at the hip joint, bringing the femur closer to the abdomen. However, during situps, the femur is held stationary and the trunk is brought closer to the femur. Therefore, the change toward attachment points seems to convey the movable attachment (or origin) can vary based upon the actions of the individual.
I have served on the test construction committee for US board examinations, and I have noticed the change toward attachment points versus origin and insertion. However, I have not seen literature that argues for one over the other. It is probably best to stick with your personal preference and be sympathetic to the individuals who take the other view point. I apologize for not adding more insight into this trend, but I have not seen literature that states the reasons for this trend. My textbooks still list the origin and insertion of muscles, not attachment points.
H. Wayne Lambert
Chair, AAA Anatomical Terminology Committee
Professional School Faculty