Trying A Neck And Shoulder Gua Sha Treatment For The First Time

TRIGGER WARNING – mention of bodily pain and pictures of broken capillaries on my back will be in this post. Please scroll away if you do not want to see any of the above.

Scoliosis – Scoliosis causes the spine to curve to one side. The curvature can be in any part of the spine, but the most commonly affected regions are the upper spine and lower back.

That’s exactly what I had growing up! I’m sure it’s a word familiar to many of you, as it is quite a common abnormality (for lack of a better word) in many people. I didn’t even realise that until I was in my 20’s, and my scoliosis affected me the most during my teen years as I had to wear a hideous, humongous back brace from ages 13 to 15.

Imagine the toll that had on my self esteem!

I’m now 27 and I am an persistent back-and-neck-and-shoulder pain sufferer. On my desk at work you’ll find a bottle of Axe Oil, an Asian medicated oil that has a reputation for good use with people aged 60 and above. But I use it on a daily at 27 years old – surprise!

I go for bi-weekly massages at a good ol’ massage place near my home with the same masseuse and I’m very happy with it. I’m a big fan of massages. Not a lot of people fancy them but I sometimes crave one, it’s insane.

If you’re an avid Tik Tok user, you’ll know about Gua Sha. But maybe, just maybe, the ones you’re seeing around are only about Gua Sha on the face. Gua Sha can also be done on the body, in a much more coarse way. Coarse, but not bad.

Gua sha is a natural, alternative therapy that involves scraping your skin with this handy massage tool to improve your circulation. This ancient Chinese healing technique may offer a unique approach to better health, addressing issues like chronic pain. In gua sha, a technician scrapes your skin with short or long strokes to stimulate microcirculation of the soft tissue, which increases blood flow. They make these strokes with a smooth-edged instrument known as a gua massage tool. The technician applies massage oil to your skin, and then uses the tool to repeatedly scrape your skin in a downward motion. – Healthline.

My grandma had recently visited a TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) clinic that was just 5 minutes from my house that I didn’t know existed and she informed me that the physician had cured her arm pain that she’d been suffering with for weeks. I was soooo down to try it, albeit feeling a bit afraid because I didn’t know what I was in for, I booked an appointment.

After meeting a very lovely young physician lady and after being asked a few short questions (like how I pooped, whether or not I drink a lot of iced drinks..), she began to use the gua sha tool on my shoulder and neck.

This photo is what my back looked like half an hour after the gua sha was done.

When my mum took and showed me this photo, I almost jumped out of my skin. Here’s why.

The gua sha didn’t hurt me at all. It was like a massage with the help of a tool. There were some points where my neck and shoulders were tighter than others, and so the pressure was a little more tender, but nothing painful enough for my back to look like that. I was quite horrified.

The red spots are tiny broken blood vessels (capillaries) under the skin were caused by the pressure of the gua sha tool. Sounds scary, but that’s exactly what happens with the right use of the tool and if you’ve got a patient with chronic pain like me. But it looked like it would’ve hurt, which surprised me.

Alongside using the gua sha tool, she also used her hands to apply pressure at certain points of my shoulders where the tenseness was overwhelming. I’ve got really bad shoulders and neck, mostly from sitting at a desk all day and not exercising.

I did not feel any pain for the hours or days following the treatment.

This was what my back and neck looked like 3 days after. A little bruised but nothing that bad. I was quite happy with it! I did feel a bit of relief and it was nice to finally experience what Traditional Chinese Medicine was like.

It has been about 2 weeks since I did the treatment and all marks are gone. Here’s what I have to say about the gua sha treatment in general.

Did I feel pain relief?

Yes, briefly. I felt good for 2 days but this is keeping in mind that my scoliosis alongside with my chronic back, shoulder and neck pain has been around for more than 10 years. My threshold with this treatment may be very different from yours and I think I would have to go a couple more times to see proper effects.

Was it expensive?

No, together with a consultation, the treatment and 8 bags of a Chinese herbal tea I was told to drink (to expel excess air from my body), it was 60SGD, roughly £32. But the treatment alone was 30SGD, roughly £16, which I think is reasonable.

How long did it take?

About 15-20 minutes. I wish it lasted longer if I’m honest.

What did I have to do after?

I was instructed not to keep my neck and shoulders away from exposure of cold air or air conditioning for the next 2-3 hours, as well as to not shower for the next 2-3 hours. I was also told to drink more water, cut the cold drinks (warm drinks are apparently the best), do some small neck and shoulder exercises daily and to get 8 hours of sleep every night.

Other than that, there was not much maintenance.

How often do you have to go back?

I was told to come back 3-4 weeks after this treatment for another one if I felt like it, and I was also recommended acupuncture. I’m frankly afraid of it as I fear needles but I’ve heard that it doesn’t hurt, and I won’t even get to see the needles as it will be on my neck and shoulders.

Would I recommend it?

Yes! I feel this treatment does 0 harm and I’ve never heard of anyone experiencing problems after this treatment as I do think it is quite mild even though the photos of my back say otherwise. It isn’t too expensive and I’ve seen TCM Clinics all round the UK where they offer this treatment. If you’re up to try something new and if you have some back and neck pain, I’d say go for it!

3 responses to “Trying A Neck And Shoulder Gua Sha Treatment For The First Time”

  1. I’ve seen some chiropractors do this! I don’t think I have that condition but my hips do favor the left side more and it causes major lower back pain (when I was pregnant it would shoot pain down my leg). I get adjusted and I feel like it would be better if I was able to go more than once a week so for now it’s almost like… not as helpful as I’d like.

    I am getting my very first massage this weekend and I’m nervous. I’m super ticklish but I was told by my chiro last week that a lot of the pain in my upper back right now is from muscle tension. So HOPING it helps!


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