Cupping is an ancient technique that can be used for effective pain management.

If you have suffered an injury or are dealing with chronic pain, it’s understandable to take relief wherever you can find it, including in traditional or alternative medical practices. Although a great deal of alternative medicine has no scientific basis, other practices have been gaining increased scholarly attention and are starting to show real promise. At Hampstead, Sneed’s Ferry, and Topsail Physical Therapy, we believe in using every tool in the box to provide the most effective treatment plans for our patients, and one of the services we offer is cupping therapy.


Cupping therapy is an ancient technique that has been documented in early Egyptian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese medical texts. In traditional cupping, the therapist would place a flammable substance–most commonly alcohol–into a cup and set it alight. As the flames began to die down, the mouth of the cup was then placed onto the patient’s skin. The flame quickly used up the remaining oxygen in the cup, causing it to fully extinguish before it could burn the patient, and creating a vacuum that sealed the cup firmly to the skin. The suction of the vacuum caused the blood vessels to expand, improving blood flow and promoting healing. In the modernized version of cupping, the cups are made of silicone, rather than glass or bamboo, and an attached pump, rather than fire, is used to create the desired suction effect.

We hope that this article has shed some light onto this increasingly mainstream treatment, and we encourage you to give us a call if you are interested in trying it for yourself.