The Benefits of Cupping Therapy

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Cupping therapy has been around for thousands of years and is traditionally a form of Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern medicine. However, cupping therapy has become a popular treatment among athletes for sports injuries, and it can be performed by chiropractors, acupuncturists, medical doctors, physical therapists, and massage therapists.

At Back to Function, as part of our treatment, we utilize cupping therapy in addition to soft tissue therapy and chiropractic adjusting. The main purpose of cupping therapy is to bring blood flow to the affected muscles to stimulate the healing process, reduce pain, and decrease muscle tightness.

Many clients have asked how cupping works. A common theory is that the suction force of the cups will cause vasoconstriction (closing of blood vessels), which temporarily cuts off circulation to the treatment site. Once the pressure is released, the body’s natural response is to vasodilate (expand the blood vessels) which rapidly sends red blood cells to the area. The increased circulation allows oxygen to enter so healing can take place. Vasodilation also activates the parasympathetic system which helps the muscles relax. Some theories and studies suggest other benefits of cupping include the release of trapped toxins from the body and the separation of the deep and superficial fascial layers that promote better tissue flexibility.

While cupping can be used to treat both local and systemic diseases, our doctors utilize cupping to assist the treatment of various musculoskeletal conditions such as strains, sprains, lower back, neck, shoulder, hip, and knee pain.

During the treatment, plastic cups are placed on the skin surrounding the tight or injured tissue and a manual pump is used to create suction. It is normal to feel pressure or a pinching sensation at first, but the intensity should gradually decrease over time. The treatment duration is typically 5-10 minutes based on the patient’s tolerance. Movement of the body part(s) can be used to promote the healing effect. Cupping will create red circles on the skin which is a common side effect that typically resolves within 7-10 days.

For most patients, cupping is safe to try and can complement an existing treatment plan. If you think that cupping therapy could help you, then give us a call at 310-534-1900 to schedule a treatment session!

References:

Aboushanab, Tamer S., and Saud AlSanad. “Cupping Therapy: An Overview from a Modern Medicine Perspective.” Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, vol. 11, no. 3, 2018, pp. 83–87., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jams.2018.02.001.

Al-Bedah, Abdullah M.N., et al. “The Medical Perspective of Cupping Therapy: Effects and Mechanisms of Action.” Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, Elsevier, 30 Apr. 2018, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2225411018300191.

Al-Bedah, Abdullah M.N., et al. “The Medical Perspective of Cupping Therapy: Effects and Mechanisms of Action.” Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, vol. 9, no. 2, 2019, pp. 90–97., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcme.2018.03.003.

“Cupping: Back Pain, Neck Pain, Types, Benefits, Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16554-cupping.

Kim, Jae-Eun, et al. “Effect of Cupping Therapy on Range of Motion, Pain Threshold, and Muscle Activity of the Hamstring Muscle Compared to Passive Stretching.” Journal of The Korean Society of Physical Medicine, vol. 12, no. 3, 2017, pp. 23–32., https://doi.org/10.13066/kspm.2017.12.3.23.

Marcin, Ashley. “What Is Cupping Therapy?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 4 Jan. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/cupping-therapy.

Dr. Ashley Franklin
About Dr. Ashley Franklin

Dr. Ashley Franklin is an associate at Back to Function, a sports chiropractic office dedicated to providing elite quality care for athletes and athletic-minded clients. She is the co-team chiropractor for the Los Angeles Kings (NHL) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB). She can be contacted at drashley@backtofunction.com.

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