Carpal Tunnel and Gua Sha
When patients suffer from carpal tunnel pain, gua sha may be an effective treatment method. Many patients will come back to their massage therapist explaining how great their arms feel.
Gua sha works on repetitive stress pain. It is the practice of using a tool to apply pressure to the skin and scrape the skin to relieve pain and tension. This action can cause temporary light bruising, which often appears as purple or red spots known as petechiae or sha.
The name gua sha – pronounced gwahshah – comes from the Chinese word for scraping. It may also be called skin scraping, spooning, or coining.
Repetitive movements that put stress on the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the arms cause carpal tunnel pain and similar kinds of forearm pain. Patients usually come up with a self-diagnosis or label for their pain. The most important fact is that the person has pain, and the location of it, so they can be treated with gua sha.
If pain is on the outside of the forearm, gua sha is practiced across the top of the shoulder and down the deltoids and outer upper arm. Then it is worked from the outer crook of the elbow down over the top of the arm to the wrist.
If pain is on the inside of the forearm, gua sha is practiced from the pectoral muscles, down to the inside of the elbow, and down over the inside of the arm (over the area that is traditionally associated with carpal tunnel syndrome).
Sometimes people have arm pain behind their elbow down to their pinky finger. In that case, you would start gua sha on the back of the shoulder blade, down the triceps on the back of the arm, down the bony part underneath the forearm, to the wrist.
No one needs to suffer from carpal tunnel pain and similar arm/wrist pain symptoms. People often toss those words out with great concern, as if there is no hope. “I think I might be getting carpal tunnel.” “My husband thinks it’s carpal tunnel, and I might need surgery.” “I know it’s carpal tunnel in my wrists, I’m going to have to quit my job.”
Gua sha generally takes only a few sessions over the course of a month to get relief. After that, monthly maintenance usually keeps arms feeling great.
Article written by Elizabeth Ernst, Certified Massage Therapist