Gua sha is used for pain associated with an acute or chronic disorder. The affected person may feel aching, tenderness and/or a knotted feeling in the muscles. When normal finger pressure on the person's skin causes blanching that is slow to fade, sha may be suspected. Gua sha is used to treat and prevent acute conditions such as common cold or flu, asthma, bronchitis as well as chronic problems involving pain and congestion of the qi and blood.
The spoon is placed against the pre-oiled skin surface, pressed down firmly, and then moved down the muscles -- hence the term "tribo-effleurage", friction-stroking -- or along the pathway of the acupuncture meridians, along the surface of the skin, with each stroke being about 10cm (4in) long.
This causes rupture of the small sub-dermal capillaries and may result in sub-cutaneous bruising, which may take quite a few days to fade entirely. The depth of colour varies according to the patient's internal reaction to treatment -- which is determined by the nature, severity and type of their disorder (generally speaking, the more severe the disorder, the stronger the reaction) -- and it may vary from a dark blue-black to a light pink. Although the marks on the skin look painful, they are not.
It is often used in conjunction with fire cupping. In such circumstances, the Gua Sha is always used before cupping, never after.
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