Article

The effects of the Gua Sha technique (western view) on the flexibility of the posterior chain: series of cases

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Abstract

Introduction: The Gua Sha technique is a method from the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), having its origins in the prehistory, where they had the habit of rubbing their bodies to relieve symptoms of pain. The term “gua” means to scrape, brush, scratch and the term “Sha” has a more complex meaning such as sand or dirt. In China, this technique was and still is very used by the peasants. Gua Sha’s great effects exist by its simultaneous action on the skin, in the connective tissues, in the lymphatic system, in the muscles, blood vessels and the internal organs. Objectives: To verify the Gua Sha technique’s (western view) use in the flexibility recovering of sedentary men. Methodology: This study had as sample three men with average of 28,66+- years, height of 176cm+=9,29, weight of 100,3kgs+-15,05. At first, the study was conducted through the patient’s anamnesis, besides the checking if the patients didn’t have any limitation to perform the evaluation tests. Then, the individuals were submitted to the gua sha technique’s treatment in all their posterior chain, only in one session. Results: After the treatment session using the Gua Sha, the patient’s improvement was notorious. Analyzing the data that shows one gain in about 330 of the lumbar back’s amplitude evaluated by the goniometry and flexibility, through the fingertip-to-floor test, in a short treatment time. In the fingertip-to-floor test, the patients were classified with reduced flexibility, because they stayed more than 10 cm away from the ground, after the technique’s use all patients were classified as having regular flexibility, since they touched the third finger on the floor. Discussion: The Gua Sha technique is very used in the eastern culture for muscular and breathing pains, so this article demonstrates one more accomplishment of the technique, the flexibility gain with satisfactory results, an important factor was the use of only one series obtaining these results, becoming one more technique to add to a combined treatment, aiming the patient’s improvement. Conclusion: This way we conclude that the Gua Sha technique is an excellent tool for the myofascial induction, for the gain of muscular mobility and flexibility of the posterior chain in a short period of treatment time.

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... Fascial Scraping is a fascial release technique done through scrapper tool, to through stimulation in specific areas produce local therapeutics effects and to restore the organic functions and break the fascial adhesions. Hence the myofacial release technique can be used to release the restricted or pathological fascial structures [8]. If a specific structural element of a myofascial chain is affected, the other structures in that chain also gets affected and need to be treated to return to full activity. ...
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Gua Sha is a traditional East Asian healing technique where the body surface is "press-stroked" with a smooth-edged instrument to raise therapeutic petechiae that last 2-5 days. The technique is traditionally used in the treatment of both acute and chronic neck and back pain. This study aimed to measure the effects of Gua Sha therapy on the pain ratings and pressure pain thresholds of patients with chronic neck pain (CNP) and chronic low back pain (CLBP). A total of 40 patients with either CNP or CLBP (mean age 49.23 ± 10.96 years) were randomized to either a treatment group (TG) or a waiting list control group (WLC). At baseline assessment (T1), all patients rated their pain on a 10 cm visual analog scale (VAS). Patients' pressure pain thresholds (PPT) at a site of maximal pain (pain-maximum) and an adjacent (pain-adjacent) site were also established. The treatment group then received a single Gua Sha treatment. Post-intervention measurements were taken for both groups at T2, seven days after baseline assessment (T1), using the same VAS and PPT measurements in precisely the same locations as at T1. Final analysis were conducted with 21 patients with CNP and 18 patients with CLBP. The study groups were equally distributed with regard to randomization. Patients in both the CNP and the CLBP treatment groups reported pain reduction (p < 0.05) and improved health status from their one Gua Sha treatment, as compared to the waiting list group. Pain sensitivity improved in the TG in CNP, but not in CLBP patients, possibly due to higher pressure sensitivity in the neck area. No adverse events were reported. These results suggest that Gua Sha may be an effective treatment for patients with chronic neck and low back pain. Further study of Gua Sha is warranted.
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Gua sha is a traditional East Asian healing technique where the body surface is press-stroked with a smooth-edged instrument to intentionally raise therapeutic petechiae. A traditional indication of Gua sha is neck pain; no data from controlled trials exist to support this claim. The researchers aimed to investigate the effectiveness of Gua sha in the symptomatic treatment of chronic neck pain. The study was designed as an open randomized controlled clinical trial. The study was set in Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Academic Teaching Hospital of the University Duisburg-Essen, Germany. Forty-eight outpatients (58.5±8.0 years; 41 female) with chronic mechanical neck pain were the subjects of the study. Patients were randomized into Gua sha (N=24) or control groups (N=24) and followed up for 7 days. Gua sha patients were treated once with Gua sha, while control patients were treated with a local thermal heat pad. Primary outcome was change of neck pain severity after 1 week as assessed by visual analog scale. Secondary outcomes included pain at motion, the neck disability index (NDI) and quality-of-life (Short-Form [36] Health Survey). 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, and dimensions of quality-of-life. The treatment was safe and well tolerated. Gua sha has beneficial short-term effects on pain and functional status in patients with chronic neck pain. The value of Gua sha in the long-term management of neck pain and related mechanisms remains to be clarified.
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Breast engorgement is a common problem that affects the initiation and duration of breastfeeding. Limited solutions are available to relieve the discomfort associated with breast engorgement. Thus, further investigation of methods to achieve effective relief of symptoms is critical to promote breastfeeding success. : The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of two breast care methods, that is, scraping (Gua-Sha) therapy (administered to the experimental group) and traditional breast care (i.e., massage and heating; administered to the control group). A randomized controlled trial was conducted on 54 postpartum women at a Level III medical teaching hospital. Participant inclusion criteria included postpartum breastfeeding women (a) who had an uncomplicated delivery and (b) who were experiencing breast engorgement problems. The Gua-Sha protocol selected appropriate acupoint positions, which included ST16, ST18, SP17, and CV17. Each position was lightly scraped seven times in two cycles. For the control group, we used hot packs and massage for 20 min in accordance with recommendations given in an obstetrical technique textbook. Results showed no statistical differences between the two groups at baseline. Body temperature, breast temperature, breast engorgement, pain levels, and discomforting levels were statistically different between the two groups at 5 and 30 min after intervention (p < .001). The results of generalized estimating equation analysis indicated that, with the exception of body temperature, all variables remained more significant (p < .0001) to improving engorgement symptoms in the experimental group than those in the control group, after taking related variables into account. Our findings provided empirical evidence supporting that Gua-Sha therapy may be used as an effective technique in the management of breast engorgement. By using Gua-Sha therapy, nurses can handle breast engorgement problems more effectively in primary care and hence help patients both physically and psychologically.
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This article is based on research findings published by Nielsen et al. [2007a. The effect of 'Gua sha' treatment on the microcirculation of surface tissue: a pilot study in healthy subjects. EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing 3, 456-466]. The abstract was accepted for poster session at the conference on fascia (www.fascia2007.com) and appears in the conference text Fascia Research [Nielsen, A., Knoblauch, N., Dobos, G., Michalsen, A., Kaptchuk, T., 2007b. The effect of 'Gua sha' treatment on the microcirculation of surface tissue: a pilot study in healthy subjects. In: Findley, T.W., Schleip, R. (Eds.), Fascia Research: Basic Science and Implications for Conventional and Complementary Health Care. Elsevier, Munich, Germany, pp. 249-250]. Our Gua sha perfusion study, the abstract of which is reprinted in Box 1, was the first investigation into the physiology of Gua sha, a technique of traditional East Asian medicine used to treat conditions that have features of blood stasis, pain, and/or inflammation. Issues raised by our study are discussed here such as the significance of the terms used in Western medical literature to describe traditional indigenous therapies like Gua sha and the implication of our findings not only for future research but toward a shift in how the integrative medical community signifies its work.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the demographics, training, and practice patterns of folk medicine practitioners, their opinions toward statutory regulation of folk medicine, and the formal education and credentialing for folk medicine providers in the metropolitan Taipei area. A cross-sectional survey design was used. Included in the survey were 200 folk medicine practitioners in Taipei city and 200 folk medicine practitioners in Taipei county. The survey questionnaire consisted of 3 domains including demographics and training; practice patterns; and opinions toward statutory regulation of folk medicine and formal education and credentialing for Tuina, Ba Guan, Gua Sha, and reflexology providers. The response rates ranged from 86.3% to 99.5%. A typical folk medicine provider in the Taipei metropolitan area was a middle-aged man with a high school degree who worked about 50 hours a week. The majority of the providers in the Taipei metropolitan area received their training through apprenticeship. Years of training and experience varied widely among these practitioners. About 80% had received more than one year of training prior to starting their practice. Adult men and women were their major clientele. The major treatment modalities they offered were Tuina, Gua Sha, Ba Guan, reflexology, and meridian massage. The majority of the respondents agreed that practitioners should receive formal education and training and agreed that certifying the qualifications of folk medicine practitioners is necessary. Findings from the present survey provide an understanding of the training and practice patterns of Taiwanese folk medicine practitioners, highlight folk medicine practitioners' needs for formal education and training, and stress the importance of statutory regulation of folk medicine in Taiwan.
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Cross-sectional area, stiffness, viscoelastic stress relaxation, stretch tolerance and EMG activity of the human hamstring muscle group were examined in endurance-trained athletes with varying flexibility. Subjects were defined as tight (n = 10) or normal (n = 8) based on a clinical toe-touch test. Cross-sectional area was computed from magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) images. Torque (Nm) offered by the hamstring muscle group, electromyographic (EMG) activity, knee joint angle and velocity were continuously monitored during two standardized stretch protocols. Protocol 1 consisted of a slow stretch at 0.087 rad/s (dynamic phase) to a pre-determined final angle followed by a 90-s static phase. In the dynamic phase final angle and stiffness was lower in tight (28.0+/-2.9 Nm/rad) than normal subjects (54.9+/-6.5 Nm/rad), P<0.01. In the static phase tight subjects had lower peak (15.4+/-1.8 Nm) and final torque (10.8+/-1.6 Nm) than normal subjects (31.6+/-4.1 Nm, 24.1+/-3.7 Nm, respectively)(P<0.01), but torque decline was similar. Protocol 2 consisted of a slow stretch to the point of pain and here tight subjects reached a lower maximal angle, torque, stiffness and energy than normal subjects (P<0.01). On the other hand, stiffness was greater in tight subjects in the common range (P<0.01). Cross-sectional area of the hamstring muscles and EMG activity during the stretch did not differ between the groups. However, lateral hamstring cross-sectional area was positively related to mid-range stiffness (P<0.05), but inversely related to final stiffness, peak torque and the toe-touch test (P<0.01). Final angle and peak torque in protocol 1 combined to improve the predictability of the toe-touch test (R2=0.77, P<0.001). These data show that the toe-touch test is largely a measure of hamstring flexibility. Further, subjects with a restricted joint range of movement on a clinical toe-touch test have stiffer hamstring muscles and a lower stretch tolerance.
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Gua Sha, therapeutic surface frictioning that intentionally raises transitory petechiae and ecchymosis, is a traditional East Asian healing technique also known as cao gio, coining, scraping, and spooning. There are case reports in Western literature but no studies on the physiological effects of Gua Sha. To study the microcirculatory effects of Gua Sha on the skin and subcutis in humans to elucidate physiological mechanisms responsible for the clinically observed pain-relieving effect of this treatment Laser Doppler imaging (LDI) was used to make sequential measurements of the microcirculation of surface tissue before and after Gua Sha treatment in 11 healthy subjects. The effect of Gua Sha treatment on the microcirculation of surface tissue was expressed as changes from baseline in arbitrary perfusion units (PU). The study was conducted at the Department of Nephrology, Unit of Circulation Research, University Hospital of Essen, Germany. Subjects were volunteers from the nursing and physician staff of the Kliniken Essen. A single Gua Sha treatment was applied to an area of each subject's back. Change in microcirculation was measured in PUs. Change in myalgia was subjectively reported and confirmed by manual palpation. Gua Sha caused a fourfold increase in microcirculation PUs at the treated area for the first 7.5 minutes following treatment and a significant increase in surface microcirculation during the entire 25 minutes of the study period following treatment (P < .001). Females showed significantly higher rates of response than males (P = .003). Each subject experienced immediate decrease in myalgia in both the site treated, in the related distal control site, and in some cases, other distal sites. Pain relief persisted to some extent up to the follow-up visit. There were no adverse reactions. Gua Sha increases microcirculation local to a treated area, and that increase in circulation may play a role in local and distal decrease in myalgia. Decrease in myalgia at sites distal to a treated area is not due to distal increase in microcirculation. There is an unidentified pain-relieving biomechanism associated with Gua Sha.
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Gua Sha is a therapeutic method of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) widely used in Asia, particularly in the treatment of chronic pain. By use of the surface-frictioning technique (called 'Gua') petechiae and a skin rash similar to millet-seed (called 'Sha') are induced. As first observations on the application of that method have been promising, we present the case of a 72-year-old woman. The patient who suffered from chronic headaches, highly profited from Gua Sha during her 14-day inpatient multimodal treatment. This case provides first evidence that Gua Sha is effective in the treatment of headaches. Further research and clinical trials are required to corroborate that evidence.
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There is increasing clinical evidence that reflex therapies such as massage, Gua Sha, cupping, wet packs, acupuncture etc. are helpful in reducing symptoms of chronic pain. However, the neurobiological basis of these effects has rarely been investigated even though the increasing knowledge of the pathophysiology of chronic pain syndromes allows for specific hypotheses. Reflex therapies are likely able to influence chronic pain at the level of the nociceptor and the spinal cord. Moreover, it can be speculated that these therapies have a strong impact on relaxation and maybe understood as a social, comforting interaction. Since it is well accepted that the positive effect of grooming has a neurobiological basis in non-human primates, its biosocial impact on wellbeing and pain processing in humans may be underestimated. A synopsis of the neurobiological foundations of pain perception, from the nociceptor up the spinal cord to brain mechanisms provides the basis for the investigation of the 'way of action' of reflex therapies. Specific hypotheses on their neurobiological bases and methods suitable for their investigation are outlined. Further clarification of the mechanisms of action of reflex therapies will support their clinical evidence and add to our understanding of the neurobiology of complementary medicine.
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