Cupping Therapy For Back Pain: Does It Work?

Although cupping therapy has been an ancient practice, it only began making rounds on social media when Michael Phelps won the gold medal in the 2016 Olympics while he was covered in red spots. Those red spots were nothing but the result of traditional Chinese medicinal therapy.

Cupping therapy is a popular alternative treatment that’s been around for centuries. It’s often used to treat back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions. But can cupping work for your back? Some studies show it may help, but others suggest it doesn’t do much.

This blog will explain what cupping therapy is and if it’s what you need.

Cupping Therapy And Its Types

Cupping therapy is where you get a bunch of suction cups placed on your skin, and the toxins from your muscles get sucked out. It’s used to treat many different conditions, including back pain. The suction created by these cups can help relieve muscle spasms, reduce inflammation and improve circulation.

There are three kinds of cupping: dry, fire, and wet, and they’re done differently.

1) Dry Cupping

Dry cupping is when a practitioner places a plastic cup to mark the spot; then, the practitioner will create suction with an air pump which will cause the skin surface to rise and pull upward, away from the muscles. This can increase blood circulation and help reduce tension in the muscles.

2) Fire Cupping

In fire-cupping therapy, the therapist uses a small flame to heat your skin by rubbing it back and forth over your body or using an alcohol lamp at a low temperature to create steam while they rub your skin down afterward. This may feel like intense heat but will not cause any damage on top of being very relaxing.

3) Wet Cupping

Wet cupping has blood in it. You make small cuts on the body part with problems and then suction the blood out with a cup. The blood is then removed from the cut and placed on the affected area to help it heal.

A massage therapist massaging a client's lower back during cupping therapy

Cupping Therapy And Scientific Research

Many claim cupping therapy has helped them with their back pain, but it’s hard to tell whether it is because the cupping worked or because they wanted it to work. This is the same as when you take a sugar pill and think it will make you better, even though there’s nothing special about that pill. The placebo effect can be powerful and help people feel better about their pain, but it’s not a cure.

Some studies have found that it may be effective for managing lower back pain but not so much for other types of back pain.

In 2015, a study was conducted on 80 patients over three months to observe the effectiveness and safety of wet cupping with lower back pain. After the trials, researchers found significant results that kept improving even two weeks after the intervention ended. Although significant improvement was seen in the end, the researchers felt that there was a need for more research.

Another 2014 study found effective short-term results of cupping therapy in reducing musculoskeletal pain.

However, it’s important to remember that these studies are small and don’t have a lot of participants, so it’s difficult to say whether or not cupping therapy works as well as other treatments such as heat packs or acupuncture.

A TCM practitioner creating suction during cupping therapy

Cupping Therapy: A Miracle Cure?

Cupping therapy isn’t a miracle cure for back pain, but it can be helpful if you want to try something new. If you’re looking to give it a try, here are some things you should remember:

Cupping is not a treatment that will work for everyone.

Some people may experience relief from their back pain after only one session of cupping therapy. In contrast, others may need more sessions or longer periods before they notice any improvement in their condition.

The effectiveness of cupping depends largely upon how much pressure is applied during each session. Too much pressure can cause more damage than good when done incorrectly or overused without proper guidance from an expert practitioner.

If you’re considering cupping therapy, make sure the practitioner knows what they’re doing before letting them handle your body. Remember to ask lots of questions, including how long it will take for you to start feeling better after each session.

Cupping Therapy Aftercare

The cupping procedure takes about 10 minutes, but you can expect some soreness for 24 hours afterward. Most people will notice a small spot of redness on their skin for about 12 hours after treatment.

Here are a few tips that should help:

  • Reduce caffeine intake two days before and after treatment to help reduce any discomfort you might experience during the procedure.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day so that you don’t feel dehydrated
  • Take an anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen or aspirin if symptoms flare up during treatment.

However, if you experience swelling, fever, or difficulty breathing after cupping therapy, seek immediate medical attention from a doctor.

Key Takeaways

Cupping is a treatment option that’s worth giving a try if you have back pain. It can be an effective treatment for some people but not for others. If you’re interested in trying it out, research the different cupping therapies and whether they suit your body type!

Red circular marks on the back of a person

Book An Appointment With An Asian Massage Therapist In Fayetteville, NC!

At Eden Massage, our practices and massage therapies are based on traditional Chinese medicine. If you want to experience the benefits of cupping therapy, we’re the ones for you.

Our licensed Asian massage therapists are trained in different techniques and methods of massage therapy. With the help of reflexology, they help your body achieve a relaxing state.

We also offer a range of other massage therapies, such as deep tissue massage, Swedish massage, Shiatsu massage, and sports massage.

Contact us to learn more about our massage therapies.