What is Gua Sha?

Gua Sha

Gua sha is a therapeutic method of classical Chinese medicine that works to improve circulation and blood flow; most notably in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, tension and chronic pain. The therapy, which involves scraping the skin in long or short strokes with a massage tool called a Gua, causes the appearance of purple or red spots known as petechiae or sha. While sha may appear visually similar to mild bruising, its appearance signifies the impeded circulation of qi, blood or fluids in the area of treatment. Gua sha, therefore, is used to address stagnant energy, blood and fluids within the body and to move the body back into a state of homeostasis.

As acupuncture and gua sha are complementary to one another and rooted in the same medical tradition, they are often combined in treatment. In many cases, it can significantly enhance the effects of acupuncture treatment.

At Acupuncture West London, we offer gua sha as part of any acupuncture treatment when it is appropriate to do so and at no extra cost.

Gua Sha
Gua Sha

Gua sha is used to address stagnant energy, blood and fluids in the body that may be responsible for inflammation and pain – inflammation being the underlying cause of a plethora of conditions associated with chronic pain. Applying treatment to areas of the skin’s surface is believed to reduce stagnation and inflammation on a local and systemic level. As a treatment for reducing inflammation, gua sha is indicated in treating ailments that cause chronic pain; for example, arthritis and fibromyalgia.

As a treatment, it is performed primarily on the back, buttocks, neck, arms, and legs. A gentle version may even be used on the face as a facial technique. The practitioner may apply mild pressure, to begin with, and gradually increase the intensity to determine how much force is necessary and comfortable for the patient.

Gua sha is perfectly safe. Generally, it is not painful, but the treatment may change your skin’s appearance in the short-term. Because it involves scraping the skin with a massage tool, treatment may result in minor bruising or bleeding at the treatment site. However, this is perfectly normal, and any bruising should disappear within a couple of days.

Gua sha is frequently used in the treatment of the following:

  • Neck, Back and Shoulder Pain
  • Joint Pain
  • Other Musculoskeletal Conditions
Gua Sha

Research also suggests that gua sha may be helpful in relieving symptoms relating to the following conditions: