What Is Cupping Therapy?



Cupping is a technique that uses cups placed over the skin to create negative pressure via suction. Generally, there are two types of cupping methods: dry cupping and wet cupping. Dry cupping is non-invasive and suction on the skin without bloodletting. Wet cupping is suctioning of the skin after the area is pricked with needles, therefore this type of cupping will be accompanied with a slight bleeding.


How Does Cupping Work?

The high negative pressure from suction leads to increased blood volume and increased expulsion of filtered fluid in the area. This filtered fluid contains disease-causing substances. Overall cupping leads to improved blood flow, removal of toxins, and decrease in pain level.


Depending on the site of illness, some common sites for cupping are the back, chest, abdomen, and buttocks. There are also sites that are not ideal for cupping, such as areas with abundant hair, areas with little muscle tissue, and those that do not have enough surface area to place the cups.


Cupping should not be done directly over nerves, arteries, veins, varicose veins, skin lesions, or lymph nodes. The size of the cups is dependent upon the location that they are being used. Researchers suggest cupping should not be done more than 10 minutes. Although bruise marks are inevitable, they will generally disappear after 1-10 days.


Who can benefit from cupping therapy?

Individuals who have headache, low back pain, neck pain, or knee pain can try cupping to see if that can alleviate their symptoms. In contrast, cupping is not recommended for those suffering from cancer, organ failure, hemophilia, those using a pacemaker, geriatric patient, paediatric patient, and pregnant women. Furthermore, individuals with deep vein thrombosis, open wounds, or bone fractures should not be doing cupping as well.


Again, undergoing cupping therapy is not for everyone, please discuss with your therapist to see whether cupping is for you. If appropriate, our clinic’s physiotherapists might include cupping as part of your treatment!


References:

Cramer, H., Klose, P., Teut, M., Rotter, G., Ortiz, M., Anheyer, D., ... & Brinkhaus, B. (2020). Cupping for patients with chronic pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Pain.


Furhad, S., & Bokhari, A. A. (2020). Cupping Therapy. StatPearls [Internet].

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