Myofascial Cupping and Physical Therapy

Myofascial cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist places glass, plastic, or silicone “cups” on the skin to create suction. This treatment lifts tissue as it is moved throughout the cup to decompress underlying tissue. 

How does this treatment option work?

Where this is stagnation, there will be pain. Remove the stagnation, and you remove the pain.” 

Myofascial cupping creates a negative pressure when the cups are suctioned to the skin. Because of the negative pressure, the cups can passively stretch tissue resulting in increased range of motion. The cups act to increase blood supply to the area where they are placed. This increase in circulation can assist in recovery and decrease pain and swelling. As a result of the increased oxygen to the area, nutrient-rich blood is supplied to the location. 

The suction created by the cup produces a tensile stress on the skin and underlying tissue along with compressive forces underneath the rim of the cup. These tensile stresses are thought to cause dilation and rupture of the superficial capillaries, creating the reddish-colored circles that many of us first recognized on standout swimmer Michael Phelps during the 2016 summer olympics.

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Does medical research support myofascial cupping? 

Despite the long history of cupping therapy, there is a noted lack of published evidence supporting it as a treatment for musculoskeletal conditions. Very few randomized clinical trials have been conducted to study the clinical efficacy related to cupping. However, systematic reviews have been carried out that suggest that the use of dry cupping causes significant reductions in pain intensity and increases quality of life. It has been suggested that dry cupping paired with traditional physical therapy treatment options provides the most benefits, specifically for those with back pain.

How much does this cost? 

At Peak Physical Therapy & Wellness, we charge $20 per session for myofascial cupping. This session includes an analysis of pain, range of motion, and discussion of restrictions you may be experiencing. The number of cups on each individual varies. Additional stretching may be performed to provide the best quality care. No matter the length of session or number of cups used, price will not change. 

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How do I know if myofascial cupping is for me? 

Individuals may receive cupping to assist with pain, inflammation, tissue relaxation, and well-being. Cupping can be helpful in treatment of the following conditions:

  • Low back pain 

  • Sciatica

  • ITB Syndrome

  • Trigger points 

  • Plantar fascia

  • Pre- and post-operation mobility 

  • Athletic stress or injury 

  • Scars and adhesions

  • Bursitis

  • Tendonitis 

Cupping should be done only on the soft muscle tissue and should not be done where the muscle layers are thin. Cupping becomes difficult in areas where there is excessive amounts of hair.  It is not a recommended treatment option for individuals with fragile skin, those with serious heart conditions, or over the abdomen and lower back in women who are pregnant.

If you would like to learn more about myofascial cupping or you want to give it a try, we would love to work with you. Please give us a call at (877)-791-7325 or send an email to schuyler@peakptwellness.com.

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References 

  1. Kwon YD, Cho HJ. Systematic review of cupping including bloodletting therapy for musculoskeletal diseases in Korea. Korean Journal of Oriental Physiology & Pathology. 2007;21:789–793.

  2. Epstein J. Value of Cupping. The Journal of the American Medical Association. 1920;75:1230. https://books.google.com/books?id=s-5gaqaamaaj&pg=pa1230&lpg=pa1230&dq=epstein 1920 explanation of cupping&source=bl&ots=qbtw7se_pc&sig=2wsqg56k5csjh1vrjbgc4ppjnvy&hl=en&sa=x&ved=0ahukewiu5nk419doahuw9mmkhz8iaxoq6aeihdaa#v=onepage&q=epstein 1920 explanation of cupping&f=false. Accessed August 21, 2016.

  3. Tham LM, Lee HP, Lu C. Cupping: from a biomechanical perspective. J Biomech. 2006;39(12):2183-93.

  4. Rozenfeld E, Kalichman L. New is the well-forgotten old: The use of dry cupping in musculoskeletal medicine. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2016;20(1):173-8.Chen B, Li MY, Liu PD, Guo Y,

  5. Chen ZL. Alternative medicine: an update on cupping therapy. QJM. 2015;108(7):523-5

  6. Cui S, Cui J. [Progress of researches on the mechanism of cupping therapy]. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2012;37(6):506-10

  7. Fousekis K, Kounavi E, Doriadis S, Mylonas K, Kallistratos E, Tsepis E. The Effectiveness of Instrument-assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization Technique (Ergon© Technique), Cupping and Ischaemic Pressure Techniques in the Treatment of Amateur Athletes΄ Myofascial Trigger Points. Journal of Novel Physiotherapies. 2016;2016.

alexandra miller