What is cupping therapy?
Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures have relied on cupping therapy for thousands of years, but it’s only through popular culture moments such as the televised Olympics, that Westerners have been introduced to the ancient medical practice now popular with athletes, among others.
As the name suggests, “cupping” involves placing several cups over strategic points on the body. Traditionally, suction was created when the practitioner lit a fire inside the cup to warm it, and then placed it on the patient’s skin to cool, but modern versions also exist. The resulting suction redirects circulation, allowing blood and other fluids to flow to areas in need of healing.
What conditions can cupping therapy treat?
Because proper circulation is a key component of treating so many conditions, it’s not surprising that cupping is used as complementary therapy for a wide range of health issues, from acne to high blood pressure and depression.
In terms of physical therapy, cupping is generally used in conjunction with other treatments to help alleviate pain. Neck pain, lower back pain and migraines are among the conditions for which patients have reported favorable results.
Decreased stiffness is another welcome result many patients experience. By helping to improve circulation, especially of blood and lymphatic fluids, internal scar tissue is also broken up. This improves flexibility for the patient, as well as creates a greater range of motion.
How do physical therapists perform cupping?
While you’ll still find Eastern practitioners who employ the “fire” technique of cupping, modern physical therapists typically use vacuum pumps inserted into the cups, or specially made silicone suction cups.
There are two main types of cupping therapy — wet and dry. Dry cupping solely relies on the suction action of the cups, whereas wet cupping starts with an additional step, in which the practitioner makes tiny incisions at the cupping site before the cup is placed over it, to further draw out blood.
What should I do if I’m interested?
Our physical therapists are highly trained in modern cupping techniques, but it’s always wise to consult your primary physician if you have reservations. The risk of adverse effects from cupping has proven to be low in numerous studies. But if you have excessive bruising issues or are on blood thinners, some cupping methods may not be right for you.
Contact us today at Sterling, VA center to learn more about our modern cupping treatment methods, and how we integrate them to complement our other physical therapy treatments, in order to help you conquer your pain and mobility issues.