Myofascial Decompression Cupping Marks Explained

Myofascial Decompression Cupping Marks Explained

18 September 2018 by Caitlin Armit

Myofascial Decompression / Cupping Marks – what do they mean?

When patients receive cupping or myofascial decompression as part of their acupuncture treatment, they are naturally curious about the colour of their cupping marks, what the colours mean and how long they may last. The colours range from being very pale pink to red to dark purple.


For some people, cupping marks are virtually non-existent or very pale. Pale marks from myofascial decompression usually only last a few hours at the most and they indicate that there is very little stagnation or tension in the treated area. In some instances, the paleness may suggest the presence of a ‘cold’ pathogen which loosely translates to poor blood circulation in the area and these areas often feel cold to touch once the cup has been removed. In the clinic, most patients who come up with pale marks from cupping are quite ‘deficient’- a term we use to describe depleted energy levels or depleted ‘qi’ in one form or another. This may reflect autoimmune conditions or just generally being run down. It is also the result we see when a patient’s musculoskeletal pain is in an area of weakness as opposed to tightness and there is a musculoskeletal imbalance causing the pain. This is much more common than you might think.


The flipside of this is dark purple cupping marks – a sign of stagnation, heat, toxin and blood build up in the area being treated. These types of marks may appear on athletes who are undergoing intensive training or on people who have a traumatic injury. In contrast to what we describe as ‘deficient’ these marks indicate ‘excess’ and sometimes may feel warm to the touch once the cup has been removed. Dark purple marks tend to last between 4 and 7 days depending on the individual’s general health and the activities they undertake in the week following treatment. When myofascial decompression is done several treatments in a row, we would expect the marks to become lighter and to clear up faster with each session as the healing progresses.


Ideally, we would expect some pink or red colouring from cupping if the underlying tissue is healthy and the patient has good blood circulation. These marks would usually last 2-3 days.


Technically they’re not bruises


A bruise occurs when the body experiences some form of trauma and the blood vessels under the skin are broken. Swelling occurs as part of the healing process and pain is felt as blood circulation to the area is decreased. Cupping marks are a result of suction and temporary restriction of blood flow to the area. When the cups are released, an influx of fresh blood carrying fresh oxygen and nutrients helps to clear cellular waste from the blood stream into the lymphatic system to be cleared. Because this process is not a trauma to the area, cupping marks are not tender or painful. The suction stretches the connective tissue surrounding the muscles and allows for more freedom of movement and reduced pain.



Categories: Pain Relief Brisbane

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