Gua sha aims to move energy, known as qi or chi, around the body. The treatment involves using a tool to rub the skin in long strokes, applying enough pressure to create minor bruising.
Gua sha may help to break down scar tissue and connective tissue, improving movement in the joints. The treatment does not have any serious side effects but is not suitable for those with certain medical conditions.
Gua sha is most often used to relieve muscle and joint pain. Conditions of the muscles and bones are known as musculoskeletal disorders. Some examples include back pain, tendon strain, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Practitioners claim that gua sha can also benefit the immune system and reduce inflammation. Sometimes, gua sha is used to treat a cold, fever, or problems with the lungs.
Small injuries to the body, such as the bruises caused by gua sha, are sometimes known as microtrauma. These create a response in the body that may help to break up scar tissue.
Microtrauma may also help with fibrosis, which is a buildup of too much connective tissue when the body heals.
Physiotherapists may use IASTM on connective tissue that is not working to move joints as it should. This problem may be due to a repetitive strain injury or another condition. Gua sha is used alongside other treatments, such as stretching and strengthening exercises.