Gua sha for neck pain: clinical trial shows benefit

A study of gua sha for neck pain, published in Pain Medicine in March 2011, reports the following results:


“Neck pain severity after 1 week improved significantly better in the Gua sha group compared with the control group (group difference -29.9 mm, 95% confidence interval: -43.3; -16.6 mm; P<0.001). Significant treatment effects were also found for pain at motion, scores on the NDI [Neck Disability Index], and dimensions of quality-of-life. The treatment was safe and well tolerated.” 


You can read the complete study abstract by clicking on the link below:

Personally I am glad to see gua sha finally getting some of the attention it deserves from the academic research community. In my clinical experience, gua sha is a low-tech/low-cost technique that is very safe, well-tolerated and effective for a wide variety of disorders, including neck pain. Gua sha is my treatment of choice for iliotibial band pain, thoracic paraspinal pain, rotator cuff tendonitis, tennis elbow, calf and hamstring strains, and a variety of other myofascial and tendon pain disorders.

Another interesting study shows a significant increase in local micro-circulation following gua sha treament, which may be one of the mechanisms of its therapeutic effects. This research finding is consistent with the theory in Traditional Chinese Medicine that gua sha moves and breaks up “stagnation of blood.”