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Vacuum Cupping, What Is It?

Most people were made aware of a technique called cupping during the 2016 Olympic Games from swimmer, Michael Phelps. What most people don’t know is why several different health care providers use cupping to help their patients. In Phelps’ case, he had a cold during the Olympics and due to banned substances, he was unable to take any conventional medication to help him. One of the providers on staff knew that in Chinese Medicine, cupping was used to increase the flow of Qi, which can cause illness if there is an imbalance.


Here, the cups are used to increase blood flow to the affected area, create space between the layers of tissue in the affected area, decrease pain in the area, increase range of motion and also improve motor control. All of these objectives can be achieved with several different styles of cupping. Your provider will determine which is best for you, but you are probably wondering what to expect during treatment.


Well, any number of cups can be applied, they will vary in size depending on the area being treated and will be left in the affected area anywhere from 2-5 minutes. Your provider may apply the cups and let them sit while they treat another region manually or they may apply the cups and move them around to treat your pain. The provider could also have you participate in treatment and ask you to perform certain motions with the cups applied. Once the cups are removed, you may notice some redness to the area which could lead to a bruise. This is a normal reaction and should go away in a few days. This is called a histamine response and it is a natural part of healing. Other people have some redness immediately following treatment but no lasting bruising and this is also normal! The treated area may also feel warm or cool to your touch and again, either are normal. Everyone reacts differently and that is ok!


Schedule an appointment but be sure to talk about your goals for treatment with your provider and ask if cupping could be beneficial for you!



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