Cupping Therapy: An Alternative Method of Treating Pain

Erica L. Dalton* and Benito J. Velasquez

Cupping Therapy: An Alternative Method of Treating Pain.

In ancient times, tribal medicine practitioners utilized bamboo, bones, large nut shells, animal horns, seashells and gourds as suction devices to purge bites, infections and skin lesions from
the body. Ancient healers even used this method on the body to draw out evil spirits. Depending on the type of equipment used to perform cupping, the vacuum is created by using heat or a
mechanical pump.

There is reason to believe the practice dates from as early as 3000 BC.9 The Ebers Papyrus, written c. 1550 BC and one of the oldest medical textbooks in the Western world which describes the Egyptians’ use of cupping, while mentioning similar practices employed by Saharan peoples. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates (c. 400 BC) used cupping for internal disease and structural problems.

Is cupping therapy a passing sports fad? We’ve all seen various Olympic athletes with distinct “circles” on their body as a result of cupping therapy. To better understand the uses of cupping therapy and its benefits, we must explore how it works and the various methods of application.

Massage cupping employs suction to tug the skin and tissue upward in the vacuumed cup, which is similar to massage techniques such as kneading and effleurage in typical massage treatment, but instead use exerting downward compression on the muscles.15 According to Stavrou et al16 “the suction of the cups rapidly facilitates rigid soft tissue release by stretching it up from underlying structures, thus loosening areas of adhesion or restriction, activating muscle spindle reflexes that relax contractile tissue and retraining the myofascial structures”.

Public Health Open J. 2017; 2(2): 59-63. doi: 10.17140/PHOJ-2-122