Skip to Main Content
Make an Appointment

Understanding Cupping Therapy and Its Benefits to Your Body

Am I Candidate

Cupping therapy is an alternative medical practice that has been used for centuries in various cultures. Proponents of cupping therapy claim it can help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and promote relaxation by increasing blood circulation.

While some studies suggest potential benefits, more research is needed to fully understand the physiological effects and long-term outcomes of cupping therapy. Here’s what we know about cupping and its benefits.

What Is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping therapy is an ancient method of treatment that has been used in the treatment of a broad range of conditions.

This therapy has its roots in various traditional medicine systems, including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Middle Eastern folk medicine. This therapeutic technique involves creating a vacuum or negative pressure inside specialized cups, typically made of glass, bamboo, or silicone. 

The negative pressure can be achieved through different methods, such as the application of heat using flames, electrical suction devices, or manual suction.

During a cupping session, the cups are strategically placed on specific points of the body, and the negative pressure creates suction, drawing the skin and superficial muscle layer into the cup. This technique is believed to stimulate blood flow, loosen connective tissues, and promote healing.

In some cupping sessions, practitioners may use rhythmic strokes or gliding movements while the cups are in place. This technique, often referred to as “sliding cupping” or “moving cupping,” aims to enhance the therapeutic effects by stimulating muscles and the underlying fascia. The combination of negative pressure and movement is thought to improve circulation, release muscle tension, and encourage a more holistic and profound therapeutic impact.

While cupping therapy has gained popularity in recent years, particularly in the realm of alternative and complementary medicine, it’s essential to note that scientific evidence supporting its efficacy for various health conditions is limited. While some studies suggest potential benefits for certain issues, further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms and effectiveness of cupping therapy across different medical contexts. 

As with any alternative therapy, anyone considering cupping should consult with a qualified healthcare professional to ensure it aligns with their overall health and treatment plan.

Types of Cupping

Understanding the various types of cupping allows individuals to choose a method that aligns with their preferences and specific health goals. The following are some types of cupping.

 Dry Cupping

Dry cupping is the most common form of cupping therapy. It involves creating a vacuum within the cup, usually by briefly placing a flame inside and then quickly applying the cup to the skin.

As the air inside the cup cools, it creates a suction effect, drawing the skin and underlying tissues into the cup. Practitioners typically place several cups on specific points across the body, leaving them in place for a set period. The cups may be stationary or moved around to target different areas. 

Dry cupping is believed to stimulate blood flow, promote relaxation, and alleviate muscle tension. It is commonly used for conditions such as pain management, sports injuries, and general well-being.

Wet Cupping

Wet cupping, also known as “Hijama” in traditional Arabic medicine, involves an additional step compared to dry cupping. After the initial dry cupping session, small incisions are made on the skin, and the cups are reapplied to draw out a small amount of blood. The incisions are usually superficial, and the blood extraction is minimal. This process is believed to rid the body of impurities and promote detoxification. 

Wet cupping is thought to not only address musculoskeletal issues but also detoxify the body. Proponents suggest that it may aid in removing harmful substances from the blood and improving overall well-being. However, it’s important to note that wet cupping has a more controversial status within the medical community, and scientific evidence supporting its benefits is limited.

How It Works

Here’s how the general process of cupping works:

  • Preparation: The practitioner assesses the patient’s health history and identifies specific areas for cupping. The patient may need to disrobe or wear loose clothing to facilitate cup placement.
  • Creation of vacuum: For dry cupping, a flame is briefly placed inside the cup to remove the air and create suction. In suction cupping, mechanical devices are used to generate vacuum pressure without the need for flames.
  • Application of cups: The cups are immediately placed on the skin, creating suction that draws the skin and superficial muscle layer into the cup. The cups can be stationary or moved around, depending on the therapeutic goals.
  • Duration: Cups are left in place for a set period, typically ranging from a few minutes to 20 minutes. The duration may vary based on the patient’s condition and the practitioner’s approach.
  • Removal: The cups are carefully removed, and the skin may bear temporary circular marks or discoloration due to the suction.
  • Post-cupping care: After cupping, patients may experience a sense of relaxation or mild soreness. Hydration is often recommended to help the body eliminate toxins released during the therapy.

Cupping Methodologies

Both wet and dry cupping have distinct cupping methodologies that are listed below. 

  1. Dry Cupping Procedure:
  • Assessment: The practitioner evaluates the patient’s condition and determines suitable cup placement. Dry cupping does not involve blood extraction.
  • Vacuum creation: Cups are prepared by creating a vacuum using a flame or a mechanical suction device.
  • Application: The cups are applied to the skin, creating suction, and left in place for the prescribed duration. They may be stationary or moved around to address specific areas.
  1. Wet Cupping Procedure:
  • Dry cupping phase: Similar to dry cupping, the practitioner begins with the application of cups without blood extraction.
  • Incisions: Small, controlled incisions are made on the skin using a sterile tool after the initial cupping session.
  • Blood extraction: The cups are reapplied over the incision sites to draw out a small amount of blood. The process is carefully monitored to prevent excessive bleeding.
  • Final cupping phase: Cups may be reapplied after blood extraction to enhance the overall therapeutic effect. The cups are then removed, and the patient may receive post-cupping care instructions.

Who Can Get Cupping?

Cupping is suitable for many individuals, but approval from a medical practitioner is advised for those with pre-existing medical conditions.

1. Healthy individuals: Cupping therapy can be applied to individuals without specific health concerns as a preventive or wellness measure. It is often used for promoting relaxation, relieving muscle tension, and enhancing overall well-being.

2. Localized ailments: Cupping is commonly employed to address localized issues such as muscle pain, stiffness, or sports injuries. It may be recommended for conditions like back pain, neck pain, or musculoskeletal discomfort.

3. Pregnant women: Pregnant individuals interested in cupping should consult their healthcare provider before undergoing the therapy. While some practitioners may perform cupping on pregnant women, it is essential to ensure that it aligns with the individual’s overall health, and in most cases, cupping is not recommended for pregnant women. 

4. Doctor’s approval: Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions or concerns should seek approval from their healthcare provider before opting for cupping therapy. This includes consultation for those with chronic illnesses, cardiovascular issues, or other health conditions.

5. Caution for specific conditions:

  • Bleeding disorders: Individuals with bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia, are generally advised against cupping due to the potential risk of excessive bleeding.
  • Blood clotting problems: Conditions that affect blood clotting may contraindicate cupping, as the therapy involves creating suction on the skin, which could exacerbate clotting issues.
  • Skin conditions: Individuals with certain skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, may need to avoid cupping over affected areas to prevent exacerbation of skin problems.
  • Seizures: Cupping involves a level of stimulation to the nervous system, and individuals with a history of seizures should approach cupping with caution and under the guidance of their healthcare provider.

6. Individual sensitivity: Individuals with heightened skin sensitivity or a low tolerance for bruising should communicate their concerns with the cupping practitioner. Practitioners can adjust the intensity of cupping or choose alternative methods to suit the individual’s comfort level.

Benefits of Cupping

Cupping therapy is beneficial in the following ways:

Relieves Pain

Cupping therapy is often utilized to alleviate chronic or acute back pain. The suction created by the cups helps relax muscles and promote blood flow, contributing to pain relief. Cupping can target specific muscle groups, addressing muscle pain and tension in areas such as the shoulders, neck, and legs.

Helps with Health Issues

Cupping may provide relief for individuals with arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis. The therapy aims to reduce inflammation and improve joint mobility. It is sometimes used as a complementary therapy to help ease symptoms of respiratory conditions. It is believed to improve lung function and alleviate breathing difficulties. 

Cupping can be applied to relieve tension and discomfort associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, promoting better circulation in the affected area. It may offer relief from headaches and migraines by addressing muscle tension and promoting relaxation.

Improves Blood Flow

Cupping therapy enhances blood circulation to the targeted areas. The suction created by the cups stimulates the flow of oxygenated blood, promoting the delivery of nutrients and the removal of toxins.

Improves Overall Well-being

Cupping induces a sense of relaxation and may contribute to overall well-being. The therapy’s muscle-relaxing effects can alleviate stress and tension, providing a holistic sense of comfort.

Promotes Healing

Cupping is believed to promote the natural healing process of the body. By improving blood flow, reducing inflammation, and releasing muscle tension, the therapy creates an environment conducive to the body’s self-repair mechanisms.

Cupping at Centeno-Schultz Clinic

At Centeno-Schultz Clinic (CSC), we are committed to providing comprehensive and innovative healthcare services, including the therapeutic benefits of cupping. Our cupping therapy services are designed to enhance overall well-being, alleviate pain, and support your journey to optimal health.

What sets us apart? Our clinic boasts an experienced and skilled physical therapist who specialize in cupping therapy. They have a deep understanding of the technique’s nuances and tailor sessions to meet individual health needs. 

At CSC, we believe in a holistic approach to healthcare. Our cupping therapy services are integrated into our comprehensive wellness programs, ensuring that you receive personalized care addressing your unique health concerns.

We pride ourselves on maintaining state-of-the-art facilities to provide a comfortable and professional environment for our patients. From the moment you step into our clinic, you’ll experience a commitment to excellence in healthcare.

The ONLY cupping therapy offered at Centeno-Schultz Clinic is dry cupping created by manual suction.

At CSC, cupping is often used in conjunction with other adjunct therapies in our clinic such as functional dry needling (IMS), Graston technique, and other manual myofascial treatment approaches.

What to Expect

Here are some common questions we receive about cupping.

How long does a cupping session take?

Cupping sessions usually take approximately 15-20 minutes.

Does cupping cause bruising?

As a result of the manual manipulation and mobilization of the soft tissue as well as the fascial layers below the skin, minimal to mild bruising is often associated with this technique. This is usually reabsorbed back into the body within the next several days and is not a permanent consequence of the treatment.

How will I feel after?

The patient is often left with a sense of flushing of circulation to the targeted areas along with a sense of reduction of their symptoms, whether it be inflammation or pain, or both.

Is Cupping for You?

In conclusion, the decision to explore cupping therapy ultimately depends on your individual health goals, preferences, and specific medical circumstances. Cupping has demonstrated potential benefits in relieving pain, improving blood flow, and promoting overall well-being. 

Whether you are seeking relief from chronic pain and muscle tension, or aiming to enhance your general health, cupping may be a valuable addition to your wellness journey.

However, it’s essential to approach cupping with an informed mindset. Consulting with qualified healthcare professionals like those at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic ensures that you receive personalized guidance tailored to your unique health profile.

Empty Spacer

Want to know if cupping therapy can treat your condition? Feel free to contact us and we will assist you.

Empty Spacer

Christopher J. Centeno, MD

Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in Interventional Orthopedics and the clinical use of bone marrow concentrate in orthopedics. He is board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with a subspecialty of pain medicine through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Centeno is one of the few physicians in the world with extensive experience in the culture expansion of and clinical use of adult bone marrow concentrate to treat orthopedic injuries. His clinic incorporates a variety of revolutionary pain management techniques to bring its broad patient base relief and results. Dr. Centeno treats patients from all over the US who…

Read more

John Schultz, MD

John R. Schultz M.D. is a national expert and specialist in Interventional Orthopedics and the clinical use of bone marrow concentrate for orthopedic injuries. He is board certified in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine and underwent fellowship training in both. Dr. Schultz has extensive experience with same day as well as culture expanded bone marrow concentrate and sees patients at the CSC Broomfield, Colorado Clinic, as well the Regenexx Clinic in Grand Cayman. Dr. Schultz emphasis is on the evaluation and treatment of thoracic and cervical disc, facet, nerve, and ligament injuries including the non-surgical treatment of Craniocervical instability (CCI). Dr. Schultz trained at George Washington School of…

Read more

John Pitts, M.D.

Dr. Pitts is originally from Chicago, IL but is a medical graduate of Vanderbilt School of Medicine in Nashville, TN. After Vanderbilt, he completed a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. The focus of PM&R is the restoration of function and quality of life. In residency, he gained much experience in musculoskeletal medicine, rehabilitation, spine, and sports medicine along with some regenerative medicine. He also gained significant experience in fluoroscopically guided spinal procedures and peripheral injections. However, Dr. Pitts wanted to broaden his skills and treatment options beyond the current typical standards of care.

Read more

Jason Markle, D.O.

Post-residency, Dr. Markle was selected to the Interventional Orthopedic Fellowship program at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic. During his fellowship, he gained significant experience in the new field of Interventional Orthopedics and regenerative medicine, honing his skills in advanced injection techniques into the spine and joints treating patients with autologous, bone marrow concentrate and platelet solutions. Dr. Markle then accepted a full-time attending physician position at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic, where he both treats patients and trains Interventional Orthopedics fellows. Dr. Markle is an active member of the Interventional Orthopedic Foundation and serves as a course instructor, where he trains physicians from around the world.

Read more

Brandon T. Money, D.O., M.S.

Dr. Money is an Indiana native who now proudly calls Colorado home. He attended medical school at Kansas City University and then returned to Indiana to complete a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency program at Indiana University, where he was trained on non-surgical methods to improve health and function as well as rehabilitative care following trauma, stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury, etc. Dr. Money has been following the ideology behind Centeno-Schultz Clinic and Regenexx since he was in medical school, as he believed there had to be a better way to care for patients than the status quo. The human body has incredible healing capabilities…

Read more

Am I a Candidate?

To answer this question, fill out the candidate form below to request a new patient evaluation, and a patient advocate will reach out to you to determine your next steps. Your one-hour, in-office or telemedicine evaluation will be with one of the world’s experts in the field of Interventional Orthopedics.

Insurance may cover office visits, consultations, diagnostic testing, examinations and bracing. However, most insurance does not currently cover Regenexx Procedures at this time.