You’ve likely seen the marks left by cupping, as the modality is enjoying a recent bout of celebrity popularity. Cupping is more than a celebrity trend, though. It’s a serious treatment that has been used for thousands of years.
Adam Learner, LAc, and his team at Family Acupuncture and Wellness offer cupping, often as one element of a larger plan, but also as a standalone service should you prefer. In this post we address some of the most common questions about cupping.
Cupping is a type of therapy that involves creating suction on your skin, which is why you see the circular marks after someone has had a cupping session. The suction improves blood flow to the area, helps to relieve muscle tension, and promotes repair at the cellular level.
Cupping is mentioned in a papyrus medical text from ancient Egypt, thought to have been written in 1550 BC. It’s certainly not a new therapy! It’s been used in many different approaches to healing, including Chinese medicine, Unani, and Tibetan.
How cupping feels
You might think that any kind of treatment that leaves marks would be painful, but in fact, cupping feels really good. None of our patients or staff members who have had cupping reported pain of any kind.
There are different types of cupping, and the suction can be created in different ways. Regardless of whether you have wet or dry cupping, or your provider uses a pump or heat to create the suction, you shouldn’t worry about whether it will hurt or not. It won’t.
Uses of cupping
Historically, cupping has been used to treat numerous conditions. Today, it’s usually used to help ease musculoskeletal issues, like sore or strained muscles. It can also help resolve problems like tension headaches.
Some people have cupping as part of an overall strategy to reduce stress. In our practice, cupping is often one piece of a larger treatment puzzle. Your plan may include dietary interventions, acupuncture, and cupping, for example.
Cupping can be done on most areas of the body, but it’s often used on the neck, shoulders, and lower back—all places where people often have chronic pain related to tension or overuse injuries.
Side effects and concerns
People often ask if cupping has side effects, and the answer is no — other than the circular marks it leaves behind. Rarely, patients report feeling slightly dizzy after a cupping session.
Researchers haven’t definitively shown how, why, or even if cupping works. But, our own experience has been that it’s an important component of a comprehensive functional medicine treatment plan in some situations.
Even though researchers haven’t found clear answers about how effective cupping can be, they have found that for most people it’s a very low risk therapy.
You should not have cupping if you have a sunburn, excessively dry skin, an open wound or cut where the cups would be placed, you have an internal organ disorder, or a few other specific situations. Our providers always discuss your medical history and current circumstances with you extensively before suggesting any kind of treatment or therapy, including cupping.
If you’d like to learn more about cupping, make an appointment at Family Acupuncture and Wellness. We’re always happy to answer questions and to discuss your health in the context of your life.