Afraid of Acupuncture Needles? Don’t Fear Chinese Medicine

By Aimee Brown, LAc, MSOM

Do you have nagging muscle pain, but are wary of the needles involved with acupuncture?  You may consider trying some of the other Chinese Medical modalities such as Cupping and Gua Sha.  These can be stand-alone treatments, or add-ons to an acupuncture session.  Read about these techniques:

Gua Sha is an ancient healing modality that helps promote circulation to the muscles, helping them release toxins and blood stagnation which causes pain and tension.  “Gua” means to scrape or rub.  The scraping is usually performed using a soft edged bone or a ceramic Chinese soup spoon on lubricated skin and is relatively painless.  Your practitioner will scrape until the skin reddens and “sha” appears. “Sha” is the appearance of a red or purple rash that appears only when there is stagnation of blood beneath the surface of the skin and typically fades within days. Western Medicine calls this rash-like symptom petechia and it is actually the result of the blood stagnation being brought to the surface of the skin where fresh blood and lymph can clean it away.  If there is no stagnation, no Sha will occur.  Most people notice and feel some immediate relief of their symptoms.

Cupping is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that is still widely used in hospitals and clinics in China today, and is useful for the relief of musculoskeletal pain and tension.  While there is some over-lap between cupping and guasha as far as benefits and what they treat, cupping does access a deeper level than guasha, and is considered a deep-tissue therapy reaching as deep as four inches into tissues.  Small glass Acupuncturejars or cups are used in this procedure and vary in size depending upon the area to be worked on.  Traditionally, a small flame is used to create a vacuum in the cup just before applying it to the skin.  This vacuum affect will then pull the skin and muscle tissue into the cup which will then help to relax the muscles, give more play between muscle and fascia, unbind knots or areas of tensions, release toxins, and stimulate blood flow.  It is viewed as getting a massage from the inside out- where during massage, pressure is applied to the skin, cupping pulls the skin up, providing pressure from the other direction.  The cups then can either be left in place for 5-15 minutes (Stationary cupping) or they can be slid over lubricated skin and cover a larger area (sliding cupping). Most people find this procedure to be relaxing and palliative, with little to no discomfort.  Cupping is beneficial not only for pain, but for the treatment of asthma, other bronchial conditions, and the treatment of cellulite.  The only side effect of cupping would be the appearance of temporary skin discoloration as the stagnant blood in the tissues releases through the surface of the skin, much like what is seen with Guasha.

Call today to book an appointment with The Ommani Center’s Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner, Aimee Brown MSOM, L.Ac, at 262-695-5311.  Learn more about Aimee at