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Managing Pain with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Whether it’s the occasional stiff neck from a bad night’s sleep or chronic migraine that won’t go away, let’s face it - pain can be a nuisance. But there’s no need to suffer in silence or suffer at all.

From the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, pain is commonly caused by an obstruction of Qi (vital energy) or blood flow. It can be a result of external factors like injuries, or due to underlying issues such as weak body constitution or internal imbalances.

Pain can be a symptom of deeper health issues, TCM Pain Management Treatment work to address the root causes and restore balance in the body.

Here are 4 components of the TCM Pain Management Treatment that our TCM clinic offers for pain relief:

TCM Tuina (TCM Massage)

If you’re constantly bothered by pain in the shoulder, back, knees or suffer from muscle spasms, TCM Tuina (TCM Massage) could just be what you need.

What TCM Tuina (TCM Massage) is and how it helps

TCM Tuina (TCM Massage) literally means ‘push and grab’ in English, TCM Tuina (TCM Massage) is a form of therapeutic bodywork that applies pressure on specific meridians or acupoints to enhance the flow of blood and Qi in the body. Using a combination of pushing, kneading, rolling and grasping techniques, it relieves tension and removes blockages to invigorate blood and Qi flow.

TCM Tuina (TCM Massage) is usually performed together with gua sha and TCM Cupping Therapy as part of the TCM Pain Management Treatment in our TCM clinic.

Other benefits of TCM Tuina (TCM Massage)

Besides being part of TCM Pain Management treatment by our TCM clinic, regular TCM Tuina (TCM Massage) sessions can improve overall wellness, aid with insomnia and relieve stress from work, among other wellness benefits.

Not recommended

While TCM Tuina (TCM Massage) is generally safe, those who are pregnant should refrain from doing TCM Tuina (TCM Massage). Those with the following conditions should also skip TCM Tuina (TCM Massage):

  • Bone fractures
  • Ligament tears
  • Fever
  • Infections
  • Malignant tumours
  • Acute spine injuries

Gua Sha (TCM Skin Scraping)

If you saw the pictures of Gua Sha body treatments online, it may not be a pretty sight, but don’t be too quick to shy away from this ancient traditional Chinese therapy.

What Gua Sha (TCM Skin Scraping) is and how it helps

Gua sha is a treatment based on the TCM principles of meridians to increase blood circulation, clear Qi blockages and dispel toxins.

During the gua sha treatment, a smooth-edged tool skin is used to scrape the skin with a combination of long and short strokes with optimal pressure. This produces a rash-like appearance that usually goes away within 3 to 6 days. The rash-like appearance on the skin is also known as petechiae or “sand rash” – gua sha literally means “scrape sand”. The sand rash occurs where the pressured strokes or scraping motion from the gua sha tool has caused the tiny capillaries under the skin to burst.

Various studies have supported gua sha treatment’s pain-reducing benefits. A 2014 Thai study found that gua sha improved the range of movement and reduced the level of neck and shoulder pain in people who are regular users of computers.[1]

While another study, published in 2011 in the journal Pain Medicine, showed that gua sha delivered significant pain relief in people with chronic neck pain, which is sometimes accompanied by migraines.[2]

Gua sha is usually performed together with TCM Tuina (TCM Massage) and TCM Cupping Therapy as part of the TCM Pain Management Treatment in our TCM clinic.

Other benefits of Gua Sha (TCM Skin Scraping)

Feeling anxious or stressed up? Regular Gua sha sessions coupled at our TCM clinic can help as gua sha is a natural mood booster that also works to encourage relaxation. Gua sha is often used to relieve muscle tension and tightness while supporting lymphatic drainage. When gua sha is done on the face as part of your daily skincare regime, it can reduce skin puffiness, and prevent fine lines and wrinkles.

Not recommended

Those with the following conditions should avoid Gua Sha treatment:

  • A tendency for abnormal bleeding
  • Critical illness
  • Fracture
  • Contagious skin diseases
  • Debility
  • Allergy to Gua Sha

TCM Cupping Therapy

Experiencing soreness in the neck, shoulders and lower back areas after exercising or using laptops for long hours? TCM Cupping Therapy might just be what your muscles need. TCM Cupping Therapy is a non-invasive and effective treatment, many Olympic athletes such as Michael Phelps have used TCM Cupping Therapy to improve their performance[3].

What TCM Cupping Therapy is and how it helps

TCM Cupping Therapy is an ancient form of TCM Pain Management Treatment in which suction cups are applied to the skin surface creating a vacuum to stimulate the flow of energy (Qi) in the body and aid in the blood circulation to relieve soreness or pain in the affected area.

First, suction cups are placed on the areas where muscles are sore. A vacuum is created by pumping air out of the suction cups, drawing the skin up into the cup. During these 10-20 minutes, the low pressure within the cup encourages the flow of energy through the meridian channels and promotes blood flow. This process expels toxins and restores the balance within the body. The little red round marks that we see on the skin surface are caused by the suction within the glass cups which break tiny blood vessels under the skin. The light bruising will usually go away within 3-6 days.

TCM Cupping Therapy is usually performed together with gua sha and TCM Tuina (TCM Massage) as part of the TCM Pain Management Treatment in our TCM clinic.

Not recommended

Those with the following conditions should avoid TCM Cupping Therapy treatment:

  • Severe heart disease
  • A tendency for abnormal bleeding or swelling
  • Emaciation
  • skin fragility
  • Contagious skin diseases
  • Debility
  • Prolonged high fever
  • Convulsion or posturing


No matter if you are suffering from chronic headache or having pain in the joints, research has shown that acupuncture is a useful treatment for pain relief.

What acupuncture is and how it helps

A typical acupuncture treatment involves inserting hair-thin needles into specific acupoints on the body to stimulate and restore the flow of Qi in the body by removing any blockages along the meridians. By doing so, it also reduces inflammation and improves blood circulation. Each treatment lasts approximately 20 minutes.

Other benefits

While acupuncture is part of TCM Pain Management Treatment at our TCM Clinic, acupuncture is also commonly used to help to relieve anxiety and improve IVF & IUI success rate.

Not recommended

Besides those who are pregnant, acupuncture is not recommended for those with the following conditions:

  • Severe fatigue
  • Excessive sweating
  • Critical illness
  • Severe heart disease
  • Severe hypertension

Besides these four common treatments, there are myriad ways to holistically manage pain at our TCM Clinic. For a treatment plan customized to your needs, reach us at 6474 0869 to make an appointment with us.


[1] Saenlee, K., Eungpinichpong, W., & Chatchawan, U. (2014, August 25). Immediate effects of Gua Sha therapy for reducing neck and shoulder pain associated with myofascial trigger point in computer users | Archives of Allied Health Sciences. ThaiJo. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://he01.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/ams/article/view/66337

[2] Braun, M., Schwickert, M., Nielsen, A., Brunnhuber, S., Dobos, G., Musial, F., Lüdtke, R., & Michalsen, A. (2011, March). Effectiveness of traditional Chinese "gua sha" therapy in patients with chronic neck pain: a randomized controlled trial. PubMed. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21276190/

[3] What Are the Purple Dots on Michael Phelps? Cupping Has an Olympic Moment. (2016, August 8) https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/08/08/what-are-the-purple-dots-on-michael-phelps-cupping-has-an-olympic-moment/

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