Myofascial Cupping

What is it?

Myofascial Cupping is a therapeutic technique to promote healing and reduce pain. It requires a special tool called a cup which creates suction on the skin. This suction force draws blood towards the surface. Red circles form under the cup and sometimes turn into a bruise. Because there are more than one method in the history of Cupping we will explain Dry Cupping and what to expect when you have this treatment in Physical Therapy.

What are the benefits?

Myofascial Cupping is used to help manage pain and mobility restrictions caused by soft tissue adhesions. By releasing the tension found in muscles and joints, pain reduces and range of motion increases.

How does Myofascial Cupping work?

Myofascial Cupping works by creating a negative pressure suction on the skin to stimulate the somatosensory receptors, blood flow, and muscle relaxation. Reducing pain is one of the main reasons a PT would use Cupping, however the exact reason why pain reduces is still left to theory. Three different explanations include Pain-Gate Theory, Diffuse Noxious Inhibitory Controls, and Reflex Zone Theory. For a more in depth explanation, follow this link.

When would you use Myofascial Cupping?

Myofascial cupping is used when clients have the following signs and symptoms:

Who does Myofascial help?

Myofascial cupping helps many people with myofascial changes. These changes can happen at different points in our lives and due to physical strain like work, sports, and injuries. Here are some examples:

  • Sports injuries
  • Old injuries from lifting, carrying or moving
  • Degenerative conditions
  • Former college and high school athletes

How does My PT do Myofascial Cupping?

We use a silicone Cup with massage cream or gel. The Cup is soft and flexible which makes it easier to created a vacuum seal without a pump or lighting a match. Once the cup is suctioned on to the skin, Dr. Tom will move the Cup along the treatment area. This may be 5-20 minutes, depending on the size of the area.

What can I expect during a treatment?

First, the problem area is identified on the body over a muscle, joint, or soft tissue structure. A little bit of lotion or gel is applied to the Cup before adhering to the skin. Second, a suction force is created to a therapeutic force. It will somewhat like a vacuum cleaner pulling the skin up away from the body, but without the slurping noises.

The third step is when the PT slides the Cup around the problem area. Now is when you and the PT may feel vibrations, bumps, and fibrous strands of tissue moving underneath the cup. A treatment may last 5-20 minutes.

Are there any side effects?

During the treatment, we look for changes to the skin. We want to see redness because this is a sign of more blood flow. The redness may last seconds or hours. As the Cupping procedure continues, the skin may show little dark red or purple dots. These are called petechiae and it is also a good sign. Once in a while, a client may develop a bruise from Myofascial Cupping. If you search for pictures of people after a treatment, you will see lots of circular bruises. That is not My PT’s aim during a session, but it could happen.

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