PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A scary looking treatment for pain relief looks like it would cause even more discomfort but people are raving about it.
It’s a therapy for pain that draws blood to the surface of the skin, leaving red and pink bruise marks.
“Everyone’s like what happened to you,” said Gina Stansfield.
“They think maybe you were injured or hurt or beat up or something,” Rayna Kratchman said.
No, it’s not torture but an ancient Chinese technique called “Gua Sha” used to treat muscle and tendon soreness.
“It’s very useful to help to soften the soft tissue, the muscular tightness it will help return proper blood flow to the area,” said Dave Schiman, a licensed acupuncturist from Manayunk Roxborough Community Acupuncture.
Kratchman competes in triathlons and depends on regular Gua Sha treatments for things like shin splints.
Schiman, who has treated thousands with Gua Sha, says people often need a series of treatments. It’s performed with a Chinese porcelain soup spoon. Dave says when he shows people the spoon they’re often curious, some skeptical at first.
It’s similar to cupping that increases blood flow with suction. Gua Sha works with directed pressure scraping, but not breaking the skin.
And while it might be popular for some, there are plenty of skeptics. When asked what Dave says to critics who say there’s not enough science to prove this works and that you might be able to get the same results with a heating pad he says, “I’d say for them to come try it because the proof is in the pudding. It works.”
Gina Stansfield is a hairdresser who’s achy from using her arms all day. She says Gua Sha is a tremendous help.
“It’s not very comfortable…it’s a good hurt I guess,” she says. “I enjoy benefits afterwards,” said Stansfield.
Anne Medrano says, “It’s slightly uncomfortable not painful just slightly uncomfortable.”
According to Medrano, Gua Sha helps her cope with sports injuries.
“There’s also immediate relief from pain, more freedom of movement and it feels really good,” said Medrano.
Gua Sha costs between $25 to 45 and is often combined with acupuncture for some extra pain and stress relief.
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