Is Cupping a Recognized Medical Massage Technique?

What is cupping and what is it used to treat?

While many products and innovations that are lauded as cutting edge and break-throughs are truly new and potentially life-changing, have you ever noticed how many are simply updates or practices that were actually in existence years ago? One good example of that is a seemingly new trend designed to have doctors make house calls. For anyone not old enough to have had the family doctor do his exam on your living room couch and who draws a blank at the mention of Marcus Welby, the new Heal service that delivers doctors to patients’ homes no doubt sounds revolutionary. The same can be said for the current trend of incorporating complementary medicine techniques into traditional medical practices. 

There are those that will tell you that doctors making house calls is a totally unrealistic idea. From the success and expansion plans of businesses like Heal, that appears to not be the case. Not only is it proving to be beneficial for patients, but there is also no shortage of doctors who want a more personal, hands-on way of practicing medicine. There are also those who swear by western-style medicine and place little credence in the effectiveness of techniques like acupuncture, yoga, massage and other forms of non-traditional medical methods. That number is rapidly decreasing, however, as more and more medical professionals here in the U.S. are recognizing the benefits of alternative or complementary techniques and rapidly incorporating them into their practices.

Massage is probably the technique that has met with the least amount of resistance as far as acceptance, especially as a relaxation technique and stress reducer. Today, however, medical massage is recognized as a therapeutic method and used by most, if not all, physical therapists. What distinguishes medical massage from what was thought of as the more traditional type of massage is the focus on the outcome. Rather than a goal of relaxation and overall feeling better, medical massage targets a specific medical condition and the session is outcome-based. Because of this, medical massage is often covered by insurance.

Is Cupping a Massage Technique?

Many different forms of massage have been practiced for centuries. One of the oldest, dating back to at least as far as 1,550 B.C. and its inclusion in the Egyptian medical textbook, Ebers Papyrus, is cupping. Done basically the same way as in more ancient times, cupping consists of small suction cups being placed on different parts of the body and left long enough for the suction to make the desired changes under the skin. 

Today, cupping therapy is enjoying rapidly increasing popularity and is being used by more and more massage therapists, including those providing medical massage. Some of the many purposes that cupping is used for include:

  • Pain relief
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Increase blood flow
  • Separate tissue adhesions
  • Break down scar tissue
  • Stimulate lymph drainage 

Practitioners and patients, alike, swear by the benefits of cupping. That said, there has been very little research or studies done to validate the claims of healing and benefit. Cupping may be a worthwhile technique for you to explore, but, as always, this should be done with the guidance of your trusted medical professional. At our practice, cupping is often utilized as a treatment modality by our experienced and licensed acupuncturists and oriental medicine specialists, working side by side with our medical physicians.

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our physicians are committed to more than just treating your symptoms. We strongly believe that each individual is best served through an integrative treatment plan. We focus on finding the underlying cause and providing non-surgical, evidence-based solutions tailored to your specific condition and needs. If you are experiencing pain or have questions about any other condition or service, we invite you to schedule a consultation by using our convenient online form by clicking here