Definition and Overview

Sometimes spelled as tuina, tui na is an ancient form of Chinese therapeutic massage performed alongside other Chinese treatments like acupuncture or cupping. It is meant to treat a variety of illnesses that are caused by the disruption of chi.

The practice can be traced as early as the Ming dynasty and has now been passed on to and adopted by modern generations. A practitioner employs different hand techniques and application of pressure to the meridian points to relieve the symptoms, treat the condition, or help the patient manage the disease.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

Most of the literatures about this Chinese therapeutic massage do not indicate who can be possible candidates for the procedure. However, early works suggest that this was done on infants and children, which also means this may apply to people across different ages.

The practice is based on the qi principle. Qi is described by the Chinese as a person’s life force or the invisible energy that helps sustain life. It travels around the body through the various meridian points, which are often paired, with each found on every side of the body. Sometimes these points can become choked, disrupting the flow of energy and the balance of chi, which will later manifest as pain or a disease.

Like many Chinese treatments, scientific data that measure the effectiveness and safety of the procedure is lacking. However, massages are known to provide pain relief and increased mobility by improving blood circulation, which brings the much-needed nutrients for healing to the injured or pained body part. A massage can also relax a person by loosening tight muscles particularly around the upper back, neck, and shoulders.

How Does the Procedure Work?

Tui na is a purely hands-on treatment approach, and the patient doesn’t need to be sedated or administered with any form of anesthesia. It is also often performed in a Chinese medicine clinic on an outpatient basis.

The procedure, which may last for at least half an hour, begins with the patient either lying in prone position or sitting straight on a chair, with the affected body area like the neck and shoulder exposed.

Using a combination of kneading, rolling, and pressing on the skin, the practitioner applies vigorous pressure across the body area. In meridian points, more force is exerted to facilitate the removal of the blockage and the re-flow of the chi. This process may be repeated many times until the session is completed.

The practitioner may then schedule the patient for possible complementary therapies like acupuncture or may prescribe certain herbal drink.

Possible Risks and Complications

It’s normal for patients to feel sore and pain in the massaged area since the pressure applied can be very strong, but these typically disappear within 24 hours.

Although some may experience long-term relief from chronic pain, this Chinese therapeutic massage doesn’t guarantee the pain won’t recur. In some cases, it can lead to more pain.

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