Several years ago I began to have pain in my right arm and shoulder. The pain got gradually worse and life was just too busy to get it checked out by a doctor. It was not until I could barely lift my arm that I finally had no choice but to seek medical attention.
The two cortisone injections I received were extremely painful and resulted in little relief. Massage did not provide long term relief either. One day a woman who was treating my son’s allergies noticed my discomfort and suggested that I have a gua sha treatment done. She swore it would help, and off to the treatment I went.
After almost a year of pain that had gotten so bad cortisone was not helpful, one gua sha treatment took away my pain for almost six months. I kid you not. After two treatments my shoulder was back to normal until I somehow recently re-injured it.
And back for more gua sha I went.
Gua sha is a traditional treatment from East Asian medicine in which the skin is scraped to release toxins and promote blood flow to injured areas.
It is done with repeated strokes over lubricated skin by an instrument with a smooth edge. The edge is pressed firmly down the muscles or along the acupuncture meridians. After the skin is scraped it results in redness or bruising that typically goes away in a couple of days. Though the process of gua sha can be uncomfortable, the resulting redness or bruising is not painful. In my experience it looks much worse than it feels!
Gua sha is also known as scraping, spooning, or coining terms which came about from the tool used to perform the treatment. Some practitioners or physical therapists might use sophisticated tools to bring those toxins to the surface, while others might use a coin, spoon, or cap with a rounded edge. The methodology behind gua sha is very similar to that of cupping, which you may have heard of because of celebrity fans such as Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Those who practice gua sha as well as those who have found it successful say that it produces both anti-inflammatory and immune benefits, and can be helpful with both pain and illness. Like most Eastern therapies which we tend to call “alternative,” there are not too many extensive research studies available on gua sha. Though I can offer you my personal experience — which is that it has helped me tremendously.
Have you heard of gua sha treatment or given it a try? Has it been helpful for you?