What Can Tuina Treat? | Acupuncture School Blog

What is Tuina? What can it treat? | AMC Acupuncture School Blog | Miami, FL

In the last article, we discussed that tuina was a form of Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) that originated in China several thousand years ago and is the oldest codified system of medicine in the world. Like the other Traditional Chinese Medicine modalities, it utilizes a TCM view of the body and uses an acupoint model to locate the points of healing. However, unlike acupuncture and Shiatsu, Tuina includes a variety of techniques that are similar to the ones found in Swedish Massage, including rolling, kneading, and pinching.


Tuina plays an important role as part of our acupuncture school program and while tuina sounds great in theory, is there any evidence that it is an effective treatment? In this article, we will evaluate tuina as medical treatment in a clinical setting.


Does Tuina Work?

Obstructive sleep apnea and hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS) is among the most prevalent of sleeping disorders. It is characterized as troublesome breathing (hypopnea) or cessation (apnea) due to upper airway collapse during sleep. It is notoriously hard to treat and few studies have documented any long-term success with one particular treatment.


However, a recent study from 2017 shows that tui na may provide a natural and cost-effective treatment for moderate cases of sleep apnea. Rather than assessing a few nights in a sleep lab, the experiment measured the long-term effects of a 10-week tui na session. Fifteen-minute tui na treatments were applied twice a week for a total of ten weeks. Afterward, the participants and their bed partners were sent home with health surveys to fill out for 3-months, which evaluated their 1. Quality of life according to 2. Snoring assessments for their partners 3. A Chinese variant of the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (CESS) to assess day fatigue. At the end of the tuina study, nearly all participants showed improvement in their quality of life, improved snoring rates, and scored higher on the CESS than they did at their base test.

Tunia and Osteoarthritis

In addition to improving sleep quality, tui na also shows promise as effective means to improve knee strength. As the body ages, frequently used joints lose their cartilage, which decreases their range of motion and hinders mobility. It has long been known that improving the strength of a joint-group greatly aids in improving mobility. As such, those with knee problems should look into tuina as a means to improve knee extensor strength.


According to a recent study, receiving three tuina treatments for two weeks maybe beneficial for improving knee strength and reducing pain. In the study, 30 patients took a pain evaluation before receiving the tuina treatments. After the two weeks, they should significant improvement in pain reduction. Additionally, they were tested for knee strength and Range of Motion (ROM). Knee strength was increased in all patients, signifying a possible causation by tuina more than a correlation. However, ROM did not seem to increase after the two weeks.


In a similar tuina experiment, 90 patients with post-stroke spasticity were divided into two groups of 45 people each. One group received tuina bodywork, while the other received a sham tuina. Sessions were conducted for 20-25 minutes per arm/leg for 5 days a week for a total of four weeks. At the end of the 4 weeks, the tuina group showed an improvement in ROM of four joint sets over the sham-tuina group.

Given all these different studies, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that tuina is an effective healing modality. While more studies need to be conducted before it is approved by public health officials, its low-risk and non-invasive qualities appear to be safe for everyone, so long as they're approved by their doctors to receive other manual therapies. 

Tuina is studied as part of our Masters of Oriental Medicine program. If you're interested in learning about a career in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, which includes tuina, download our free career guide below. 


We invite prospective students to come audit a class at Acupuncture and Massage College. Call (305)-595-9500 or visit us at 10506 N Kendall Drive, Miami, FL 33176 to schedule a date to stop by. We're located near the Kendall mall. You can also email us at admissions@amcollege.edu to request more information.

Google Map of 10506 N Kendall Drive, Miami, FL 33176

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