Cupping Therapy

Cupping Therapy

What is cupping?

Cupping involves the use of suction cups to create a vacuum effect on the skin. It is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique used to alleviate pain by stimulating muscles and fascia, calming the nervous system, promoting blood and lymph flow at a specific site and eliminating pathogens from the body. Practitioners frequently use cupping alongside other techniques for the quick relief of back, neck and shoulder pain. They may also use it to ease the symptoms of colds and flus by stimulating the immune system.

How does cupping work?

Traditionally, cups are made from glass, bamboo or earthenware. Your practitioner uses a flame inside the cup to create heat, which then cools and creates the desired suction effect when applied to the patients skin. Cups come in a variety of sizes and can be left stationary on the skin or the practitioner can glide them over the patients skin to create a sensation similar to massage. They may also be gently applied and removed rapidly and repeatedly.

I often liken the sensation of cupping to when someone gives the tops of your shoulders a nice big squeeze – it feels tight but satisfying and relieving.  Like acupuncture needles, cups are often placed over acupoints or meridians to have specific effects on local areas. They are usually left on for 5-10 minutes. Due to the suction, blood vessels expand causing red marks to remain on the skin. These marks usually last 1-2 days and are not indicative of trauma. Patients describe this treatment as soothing and painless with fast results. You can read more about the colouring of cupping marks in our blog article.

What is Gua Sha?

Another similar technique to cupping is Gua Sha. Gua Sha involves the practitioner using a blunt instrument to vigorously slide along the patients skin. This is done until redness (“sha”) appears at the skin surface. The purposes of this technique are very similar to those of cupping with the additional purpose of reducing fever.

Can I request cupping and Gua Sha?

If these practices are appropriate for your condition (to be determined by your practitioner) then they will be included in your treatment. Please note, cupping and gua sha are not stand-alone treatments at Fusion Acupuncture. They are used as an adjunct to acupuncture treatment, largely because the health funds require needle penetration in the treatment if you are to claim on your private health insurance. In addition, cupping and gua sha only takes a few minutes so it is not time efficient to have these as separate treatments.