Muscle injuries can be painful and having tennis elbow is no different. For those of you who don’t have a lot of experience with it, Tennis Elbow is a term that refers to the swelling of the tendons in your elbow joint and that swelling leads to pain. For some it may just be a minor dull ache that goes away after a short period of time, but for others, it can be chronic and excruciating. There are several treatments available for tennis elbow, which we cover in our post “Tennis Elbow Pain – How To Diagnose and Treat It“, but recently an ancient solution has come under the spotlight as a strange but effective procedure and it’s called Gua Sha.
What is Gua Sha Exactly?
Gua Sha originated in China around the 7th century and was used in traditional Chinese medicine. Gua Sha involves using a tool to “scrape” the skin. It’s believed that by causing tissue damage, they could bring relief to a particular injury or sore area of the body. Gua Sha is said to release unhealthy body matter within sores and inflammation, to stimulate the flow of oxygenated blood. So far, Gua Sha has proven to be an effective treatment for joint and muscle pain. The only thing most people find scary about it, is the scraping of skin which leads to reddening and mild bruising. (Note, in recent practices, acupuncturists use crystals as the Gua Sha tool, instead of wooden instruments).
How Does Gua Sha Work?
This ancient treatment is suitable for muscle inflammations and has been known to help with Tennis Elbow. The first thing you need to know is that you can’t do it yourself. You must visit a clinician or acupuncturist to get the Gua Sha treatment. The clinician will use a suitable tool to work on the injury by scraping the elbow. You will most likely feel mild discomfort, some pain, and possibly experience obvious skin reddening after the first appointment. The treatment is carried out every 2-3 months. It is not regular and does not require you to stop sports activities for recovery.
Those who have gone through the Gua Sha treatment have experienced almost immediate relief, which allowed them to keep up with their regular daily lives. The redness associated with the procedure usually disappears after five to seven days. The benefits of using Gua Sha to treat your muscle injuries range from quick relief to relaxed muscles and improved blood circulation. To see the Gua Sha treatment for Tennis Elbow in action, have a look at the following video:
Drawbacks & Other Information
Like any other treatment for Tennis Elbow, it might work for you, or it might not. That’s the problem with Tennis Elbow is that what works for one person, doesn’t always work for another. So it’s important to keep an open mind about it and consider it when other treatments have failed and talk to your doctor about it before you go for your first treatment. They may recommend something else for your particular situation. Also, doctors often suggest supplementing this type of treatment with flexibility and strength training programs. Also keep in mind that there are a few drawbacks to Gua Sha.
The first is the potential risk of breaking the skin during the scraping process. Although practitioners try to avoid this, it can still happen. Broken skin can lead to infections, which is why practitioners should constantly sterilize their Gua Sha tools. So make sure you do your research and go to a reputable place. Second, after the procedure, the patient has to protect the skin from bumping or further injury. Wearing loose long-sleeved clothes might help with this.
Have you tried Gua Sha before? Whether it was for treating Tennis Elbow or something else, we’d love you hear about your experience. Whether good or bad. Also, if your elbow pain is becoming too much to handle, consider using SimplyJnJ’s Cold Therapy Elbow Wrap with Compression, which some of our readers have been having good results with:
Disclaimer: We are not medical practitioners here at Cold and Hot Therapy Shop. The information on Gua Sha for Tennis Elbow mentioned in today’s article was for informational purposes only. Always talk to a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and recommendations for your situation.