Gua Sha is a form of friction or scraping therapy using flat tools of ivory, jade or quite commonly a Chinese soup spoon. It is very effective at removing blood stagnation (often caused by some sort of trauma such as whiplash injury).
By restoring healthy blood circulation in the superficial tissues of the muscles, the stagnant blood is pushed to the exterior of the body in a ‘Sha’, which resembles a bruise, but is completely painless.
The patient in the photo was suffering from chronic neck, shoulder & back pain after being involved in a head on car crash, a year before, having apparently only sustained a minor wrist injury at the time. Although the treatment looks extreme, Gua Sha is not a painful procedure and often provides immediate relief from longstanding muscular tension and blood stasis. The marks are usually gone within a week and external herbal liniments can be applied to speed up this process.
This photo shows the second treatment and one can see how there is only a small amount of significant stagnation remaining near the right shoulder blade – a very successful outcome! In fact, this level of ‘sha’ is much more typical of most gua sha treatments.