Cupping Therapy

By Rachel Long, PT, DPT

Cupping therapy is a soft tissue mobilization technique that uses glass or plastic cups placed over the skin to create negative pressure through suction.  It is an ancient technique that is becoming more popular in modern medical practices.  Cupping directs circulation of blood to specific areas of the body to increase oxygenation and promote healing. In addition to using it to treat pain and inflammation, it’s also used as a technique to help promote blood flow, relaxation, and overall well-being.

Technique:  

Cups are placed on top of the skin over areas with soft tissue restriction.  A suction device is used which raises the soft tissue into the cup.  Cups may be placed in one position or moved around.  Pressure in the cups is released by lifting a small valve on the top of the cup.  Treatment is typically 5-10 minutes in duration.  

What to Expect After a Treatment:

After a cupping treatment, it is normal to see changes in the skin (this is due blood vessels opening up and releasing toxins or waste).  This may include:

  • bruising
  • petechia (small red dots) 
  • redness
  • swelling 
  • discoloration

These skin changes can last up to 10 days and are not a cause for concern.  

Cupping is a great adjunct to other traditional manual therapy techniques to optimize patient outcomes.  Contact Lifeline Physical Therapy if you would like to learn more about the benefits of cupping therapy.