Gua Sha therapy for chronic low back pain: A randomized controlled trial

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 Feb:34:64-69. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.11.002. Epub 2018 Nov 10.


Objective: To test the efficacy of Gua Sha therapy in patients with chronic low back pain.

Methods: 50 patients with chronic low back pain (78% female, 49.7 ± 10.0 years) were randomized to two Gua Sha treatments (n = 25) or waitlist control (n = 25). Primary outcome was current pain intensity (100-mm visual analog scale); secondary outcome measures included function (Oswestry Disability Index), pain on movement (Pain on Movement Questionnaire), perceived change in health status, pressure pain threshold, mechanical detection threshold, and vibration detection threshold.

Results: After treatment, patients in the Gua Sha group reported lower pain intensity (p < 0.001) and better overall health status (p = 0.002) compared to the waitlist group. No further group differences were found. No serious adverse events occurred.

Conclusions: Gua Sha appears to be an acceptable, safe, and effective treatment for patients with chronic low back pain. Further rigorous studies are needed to confirm and extend these results.

Keywords: Gua sha; Low back pain; Randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Male
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome