Chronic lower back pain can be reduced with Gua Sha therapy

Chronic lower back pain has become a major health problem in the world. Many people seek relief, but most available treatments are often ineffective or have dangerous side effects. If you’re one of the people who suffer from chronic lower back pain and are looking for a natural way to treat it, researchers from the University of Duisburg-Essen and Witten/Herdecke University in Germany recommend Gua Sha therapy.

Gua Sha therapy is an ancient healing technique that originated in China. In this natural, alternative therapy, a technician scrapes your skin with a massage tool to enhance your blood flow. Like most Chinese healing techniques, gua sha aims to improve the flow of the energy called “qi” in the body, which practitioners believe may be responsible for inflammation — the underlying cause of conditions associated with chronic pain. By rubbing the skin’s surface, typically on the back, buttocks, neck, arms, and legs, practitioners believe it will break up this energy, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.

The researchers carried out the study to investigate the effect of Gua Sha therapy in people with chronic lower back pain. In conducting the study, they recruited 50 people who suffer from chronic lower back pain and divided them into two groups: a control group and a treatment group. Participants in the treatment group received two Gua Sha treatments — one directly after randomization and the other one was given seven days after randomization. Before and after the treatment, the researchers also measured the intensity of pain, as well as the function, pain on movement, perceived change in health status, pressure pain threshold, mechanical detection threshold, and vibration detection threshold of the participants.

After gathering and analyzing the results, the study showed that those who received Gua Sha therapy reported reduced pain intensity and improved overall health status compared to those in the control group. In addition, the treatment was considered safe because there were no records of serious adverse events that occurred during the treatments with Gua Sha therapy. Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that people with chronic lower back pain can use Gua Sha therapy to reduce the intensity of the pain they feel and to improve their overall health status.

Why does chronic lower back pain occur?

Almost 80 percent of adults experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. This type of pain, in general, varies in intensity. It can be a dull, constant ache or a sudden, sharp sensation, which leaves the person disabled. Moreover, nearly 20 percent of people affected by acute lower back pain develop chronic back pain with persistent symptoms within a year. Lower back pain is considered chronic if it has been present for three months or longer, even after an initial injury or underlying cause of acute low back pain has been treated. In addition, it has become one of the leading contributors to missed work days and disability.

While chronic lower back pain is usually age-related, it can also develop due to an injury. It is most commonly caused by one of the following:

  • Arthritis of the spine, which is the gradual thinning of the cartilage inside the spine
  • Disc problems, such as a herniated or bulging disc
  • Myofascial pain syndrome, which is unexplained muscle pain and tenderness
  • Spinal stenosis or the narrowing of the spinal canal that may lead to nerve pain

However, in some cases, the source of the pain is not known or cannot be specifically identified. If that is the case, the best option to address chronic lower back pain is to reduce the flare-ups and make the pain manageable with nonsurgical treatments. (Related: Six reasons you may be having lower back pain and how to treat it WITHOUT painkillers.)

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