Have you ever thought about trying cupping? Maybe it is time you did.
This ancient Chinese medicine therapy has been brought to the publics’ attention due to its increasing popularity among celebrities and sportsman. Cupping is an ancient Chinese medicine therapy that involves the application of suction by creating a vacuum, typically done by using a fire cup on the skin of the affected body part (1). When performed properly adverse events are rare.
Cupping feels similar to a deep tissue massage, but instead of putting pressure into knots and tight muscles they drawer out creating a release sensation. There may be some discoloration where the cups were located. From my experience the depth of the colour often depends on how long the issue has existed or how long the cups are used for. It may look similar to a light bruise, but it should not hurt to touch. The discolouration slowly fades, usually taking between 1-7 days.
The technique has multiple therapeutic functions including warming, promoting circulation, relieving swelling, accelerating healing and alleviating pain (1-2).
In a systematic review of the treatment of pain cupping significantly improved lower back pain compared with usual care (2). In the most recent systematic review, cupping has demonstrated significant benefits in the treatments of herpes zoster (shingles), acne, facial paralysis and cervical spondylosis (age related wear and tear to the spinal discs)(3).
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1. Chi, L., Lin, L., Chen, C., Wang, S., Lai, H., & Peng, T. (2016). The Effectiveness of Cupping Therapy on Relieving Chronic Neck and Shoulder Pain : A Randomized Controlled Trial, 2016(1).
2. Lee, M. S., Kim, J. I., Lee, D. H., Boddy, K., & Ernst, E. (2011). Cupping for treating pain: A systematic review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2011(January 2009). http://doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nep035
3. Cao, H., Li, X., & Liu, J. (2012). An updated review of the efficacy of cupping therapy. PLoS ONE, 7(2). http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031793