Cupping is a technique that can be used to manage and reduce musculoskeletal pain. It is most commonly used to treat neck, back and shoulder pain. However, it can also be implemented in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions affecting the limbs.
Vacuum cupping utilises a cup that creates a seal when placed on the skin. Using a hand pump, the air inside the cup is gently removed, causing the skin to rise slightly. Depending on the condition being treated, the cup may be moved along a muscle or an area of pain, or multiple cups may be placed statically on the skin. Static cupping may create circular areas of skin discolouration similar to a bruise, which generally fade within 10 days.
During both static and active cupping, it is common to feel a sensation of tightness around the skin within the cup, as well as a mild warmth. More or less air can be added to the cup to adjust the amount of suction created – in general, less suction is used in cups that are moved around an area than in static cupping. Mild to moderate discomfort may be experienced during cupping. However, your practitioner will work with you to determine the appropriate amount of suction for your condition and individual tolerance.