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Gua Sha

Gua Sha (aka Scraping Therapy) is a classic Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique, performed by “scraping” (Gua), using a unidirectional pressure on the patient’s skin, usually lubricated, with an object of smooth and rounded edges (usually a Chinese soup spoon) aiming to intentionally create therapeutic petechiae (Sha) which usually disappear within a few days (2-5 days). (1)

Gua Sha is widely practiced in China and South East Asia to treat neck and shoulder pain, muscle pain, other types of chronic pain (especially lower back). (2)


The scraping marks (petechiae aka minor bruising) create a mechanical signal to stimulate the skin, nervous system, and immune system through various physiological pathways that create an overall therapeutic, anti-pain, and relaxation response. (3)

Gua Sha also promotes an increase of blood flow to the area of scraping and thereby creates an overall anti-inflammatory effect, which helps to reduce pain at the specific site. (2, 4)

While acupuncture and cupping therapy (the two other TCM tools we use at Healthy Habit Medical Center) can be used in many different medical situations, we strictly use Gua Sha in instances of pain, muscle tension, and injury rehabilitation (both athletes and non-athletes).

Gua Sha is typically performed in addition to cupping and trigger point therapy, all during the same in-office treatment session.

Although Gua Sha is an extremely safe therapy overall, we always take precautions to make sure that the patient’s skin isn’t too fragile, weak, or extra-sensitive to handle the therapy.

  1. BrJP. São Paulo, 2019 jul-sep;2(3):284-8

  2. Explore. 2007;3:456–66.

  3. J Family Med Prim Care. 2021 Aug;10(8):2757-2762

  4. J Vis Exp. 2009; (30): 1385.

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