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Gua-sha: application and therapeutic results in musculoskeletal pain situations. Systematic review



Gua-sha is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique, which consists of scraping the skin with a smooth and rounded edges object until the appearance of petechiae. Used domestically in Asia, it is described as capable of promoting the improvement of several conditions (e. g. respiratory, digestive, fever, and insomnia), such as painful conditions. However, there is a shortage of systematic reviews in this respect in Western literature, so this study aimed to analyze the common use of Gua-sha and the methodological quality of the studies.


The PEDro, Pubmed, Scielo and LILACS Databases were consulted, searching for clinical trials with the following keywords and Boolean index: Gua-sha AND pain; Scraping therapy AND pain (English, Portuguese and Spanish). Thirty-two articles were pre-selected, but only six met the inclusion criteria (clinical trial, pain as one of the evaluation criteria, musculoskeletal pain). The disorders reported were related to the spine, with a mostly superior response or similar to the control group, being investigated in the short term (7-21 days). The studies methodological quality were considered moderate according to the PEDro scale.


Gua-sha is a simple, inexpensive alternative with short-term effects for the treatment of conditions involving the spine and surrounding areas, such as a single intervention or in combination. Its practice is already well referenced but requires studies of high methodological quality and analysis of its effects also in the appendicular skeleton.

Chinese Traditional Medicine; Pain; Physical therapy modalities; Physical therapy speciality; Rehabilitation

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