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Adrienne Dellwo

Cupping as Fibromyalgia Treatment

By September 14, 2011

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Research Brief

New research suggest that medicinal cupping may be an effective fibromyalgia treatment.

Cupping is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and is sometimes performed by acupuncturists and massage therapists. It involves using glass or plastic cups to create suction. Practitioners say it helps ease pain, increases blood flow and improves the flow of energy through the body.

In the study, researchers in Beijing evaluated the pain of 30 fibromyalgia patients before treatment and several times in the 2 weeks after treatment. They say patients saw a reduction in pain and number of tender points and that the effects lasted for the 2-week duration. None of the participants had serious side effects.

Researchers concluded that a controlled clinical trial of cupping for fibromyalgia should be performed.

My Cupping Experience

I've had a lot of cupping as part of acupuncture and massage therapy, and also at home -- it's important enough to me that we bought a kit and my husband and I have both learned to use it.

For me, cupping helps a lot with those muscles that just won't unclench. The only down side I've seen is that it leaves a circular mark that looks like a bruise. I've had them ranging from faint to deep purple, depending on the amount of tension in the muscle and how long it's been sore. The really dark marks can be a little tender for a day or two.

Have you had cupping for fibromyalgia pain? How did it work? Leave your comments below!

Learn more or join the conversation!


Photo Keith Brofsky/Getty Images

September 14, 2011 at 12:52 pm
(1) leorising says:

I learned cupping in Chinese medical school. It is very good for treating surface tension; if the patient pursues regular treatment, the benefits can reach deeper into the muscles.

If you apply oil to the skin, you can move the cups around. This type of “moving cups” massage can be very helpful.

There are precautions with this therapy, and if you have a home “suction gun” cupping kit, you should know them: Do not cup over the nipples or the genitals. Also, “Chinese medicine cupping is not ideal for everyone, or for every situation. It should not be done on the back or abdomen of a woman who is pregnant, or on anyone who has a skin allergy or an ulcerated sore. Anyone who is suffering from cramps, convulsions or a high fever should also avoid it.” (From this website: http://www.chinesemedicineadvisor.com/chinese-medicine-cupping.html)

Too bad I don’t have a loved one who can do this for me. My shoulders and upper back could sure use it!

September 15, 2011 at 12:57 am
(2) Ralph H. says:

Trade you. I also have nobody and think it’s time to reinvent our communities.

September 14, 2011 at 10:55 pm
(3) Rizwhan says:

Hijama centres Uk is an organisation of clinically trained health professionals and Doctors who perform Wet Cupping Therapy throughout the UK based on a Modern Clinical understanding of health and Science. For more information visit Hijamacentres.co.uk or share your experience & sign up to a great hijama blog: Aheath.co.uk

September 14, 2011 at 11:57 pm
(4) Tami Stackelhouse says:

I used to get “ice pick stabbing” pains in my thighs as part of my fibro symptoms. They would happen randomly, out of the blue, then go away as quickly as they’d show up. I could never predict them.

I get regular massage and acupuncture, but hadn’t tried this type of cupping until earlier this year. A massage therapist friend of mine had gone to a class to learn how to add cupping to her list of services. She had heard it was good for fibro and asked if she could “borrow my body” for practice. (Gee, I suppose so!)

We did cupping on only one of my legs to see what would happen. I had those horrible looking deep purple bruises in a few spots when she was done. She really worked that thigh over! (This was back in February.)

After a month, I was still experiencing the ice pick pains in my other leg, but NONE in the leg she’d treated. I went back to her and told her, “I’m not leaving until you fix my other leg!!”

It’s now been six months after that second treatment. I get little twinges in my right thigh occasionally (it was always the worst leg) but nothing in my left thigh. I’ve only had that one treatment.

Needless to say, I believe in cupping! =)

September 16, 2011 at 5:34 pm
(5) Kari says:

I have tried numerous types of treatment for chronic pain caused from a car accident 3 years ago. I finally began Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupunture last week. In the first treatment the cupping was used and has held the pain that was relentless in my hips away so far. I have only had two treatments but have found it so far to be highly recommended. I look forward to cupping again next week, as she does it ever other treatment. It is amazing how much tension the suction can relieve in a short time. If your state approves Acupuncture please post.

September 16, 2011 at 8:14 pm
(6) Colleen says:

Interesting, never tried it though. Massage works well so may be worth a try.

May 8, 2012 at 8:23 pm
(7) Jacqui says:

I have had my second lot of cupping today, and whilst one shoulder feels quite tender the other feels magically relaxed! I have had wet cupping each time, with suction cups rather than the glass ones… don’t think I could cope with hot as well as the suction ‘pain’. Each area was different today, even one side of the cup to the other….one side with little feeling and the other highly sensitive…even the pricking was different, some just feeling like dentist type pressure whilst others were like being stabbed really deeply. I use SBC arnica gel over the cupped areas afterwards to reduce the bruising and although they were quite marked, they were all gone within the week. The arnica gel also helps when the muscles are sore.
After the first cupping I felt much more relaxed and energised, Hoping it will have the same effect this time.
I was diagnosed with FMS 16 years ago, and cupping has given more lasting relief than massage (which hurts far more) …just wish I had let my therapist do this a few years ago, but I was

July 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm
(8) Karin says:

the good news, that it does reduce the pain. another good news is that i stumbled upon the Bellabaci cups not too long ago, i use them whenever the pain is starting and use it on myself at home.
it is so easy to use and gentle on the skin, i glide them over my legs, and i have a pain relief lasting for at least two weeks. highly recommended. check them out on http://www.bellabaci.com DIY

November 13, 2012 at 1:12 am
(9) janna says:

I have used acupuncture and cupping for costochondritis and fibromyalgia and have had great success! The first time she treated the costochondritis she put the needle in and then put the cup over, INSTANT relief. There was a large black bruise but worth it! I also have cupping after acupuncture on my shoulder which helps with tightness. These two treatments have made a life not worth crap into a life worth living! Headaches better, fibro pain much better, bowel issues less often, sleep much better. I also have figured out severe upset causes both to kick in big time!

November 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm
(10) Zunaid Moolla says:

I’ve suffered from Chronic Fatigue and FIbromyalgia for 32 years. I started cupping treatment in May this year, going approximately twice a month. It is by far the most effective treatment I’ve ever tried (and I’ve tried many over the years). The pain and muscle spasms have been reduced by about 80 – 90 per cent, my energy levels have improved and I think more clearly than I have in all these years. In short, I’m starting to feel like my old self again and my self confidence has been given a huge boost. It hasn’t cured me of fibromyalgia but I haven’t been this well in years. I’m so impressed with the treatment that I’m now considering opening a clinic to treat fibromyalgia sufferers in Cape Town.

I highly recommend you try cupping if you suffer from fibromyalgia.


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