Literally meaning “scratching or scraping” in Chinese, Gua Sha is a pleasing technique that, like cupping, creates heat on the skin deliberately to help eliminate pain. As with cupping, Gua Sha is used where there is pain, “Heat” and/or stagnation. Also as with cupping, patients find this technique pleasant.
On skin coated with an oil such as coconut or a Thai balm, the back of a porcelain or wood tool passes over the painful or tight area, creating a bright red reaction. Afterwards, tight areas feel much looser. Superficial blood vessels may break during this process, creating a bruised appearance, but it is not painful, and resolves in couple of days. Patients usually appreciate some immediate relief from tight-type low back pain.