If you have found massage or acupuncture therapy to be helpful for your FMS, you may also be interested in trying other kinds of alternative treatments. Alternative treatments usually offer FM patients substantial pain relief without the added side effects caused by traditional therapies. Cupping therapy is becoming very popular among FM patients in both United States and Europe. This treatment helps to reduce muscle pain and stiffness and increase blood circulation through the use of suction. The ancient Chinese therapy of cupping is championed by celebrities and professional sports stars the world over, but could it help people with FM get some pain relief?
Cupping treatment has been adapted for use from a form of traditional Chinese medicine. This kind of treatment uses cups of glass applied to the skin to help flush out toxins, relieve pain, and restore healthy blood flow to the body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, cupping works by placing small glass cups on various acupuncture points on the body. The cup sticks to the skin and creates a vacuum, and the air within the cup is heated before being applied to the skin so the heat can penetrate the skin when placed on the body. The cup is left on the skin for a few minutes before being pulled away, leaving the trademark red welt on the skin. In wet cupping, the skin is pricked prior to the cup being placed. This is supposed to promote healing by increasing circulation.
Researchers have not tested the effectiveness of cupping specifically for FM pain relief, but most of the people living with the disease report benefits. However, some recommend it may simply be a placebo effect. Cupping can leave burns, bruises, sore patches and in some cases, skin infections but if led by a qualified professional, there should be no complications.
Types of Cupping There are two main kinds of cupping:
- Massage Cupping: In the course of massage cupping, the glass cups are moved around the skin in a massage-like procedure.
- Stationary Cupping :During stationary cupping, each glass cup is left in one place on the skin. The glass cups are not moved.
Cupping Therapy for Fibromyalgia
Cupping treatment is usually helpful for people suffering from FM. If you have FM, you know how tender your joints and muscles are. Even a vigorous massage can send your body into spasm. Cupping, on the other hand, is a non-irritating sort of treatment. It will not make worse your muscle pain in anyway, or compound any of your FM symptoms. It is usually good for:
- increasing muscle flexibility and range of motion
- reducing trigger points
- decreasing depression and anxiety
After your cupping therapy you may see some red marks in the form of circles on your skin. But do not worry, this is a sign that the cupping procedure has worked to increase your circulation. You’ll also feel extremely relaxed and the parts that have been treated will feel light and flexible.
Is there any evidence that cupping therapy relieves fibromyalgia pain?
Some studies show that cupping may lessen FM symptoms more effectively than conventional treatments. But it does not appear that the procedure works any better than a sham form of cupping. Proponents believe that cupping therapy can promote healing and help increase circulation.
The procedure is normally safe when performed by trained professionals, but it can cause soreness, bruises, burns and, rarely, skin infections. Studies of cupping usually measure the procedure’s effectiveness by comparing it with that of other forms of treatment. But, high-quality research studies usually also contain a group of people who receive a placebo, a sugar pill or a fake version of the procedure being studied.
It has been difficult to devise a sham version of cupping that cannot be recognized as a sham by the participants in the study. Despite cupping therapy being more effective than usual care to improve quality of life and pain intensity, effects of cupping therapy were insignificant and comparable to those of a sham treatment, and as such cupping can’t be recommended for FM at the current time. So while some of the available studies do suggest a possible role for cupping in treating FM, the conclusive answer to its actual role will have to wait for larger and more rigorous studies to be completed.
Study Shows :Cupping Therapy May Not Be Effective Treatment Option for Fibromyalgia
The study, “Efficacy Of Cupping Therapy In Patients With The Fibromyalgia Syndrome – A Randomised Placebo Controlled Trial,” and was published in the journal Scientific Reports. To know whether cupping treatment could offer relief to FM patients, 141 patients ages eighteen to seventy-five were enrolled in the study and randomly assigned to one of 3 groups: therapy with dry cupping, sham cupping, or usual care.
“Sham” cupping looks like the real therapy to study participants, but is done in such a way so that patients could not feel any pain relief. Patients usually do not know whether they are getting the sham or the cupping therapy. Cupping and sham groups got 5 sessions with an interval of twice a week within 18 days. Cupping was done on the patients’ lower and upper back using 4 to 8 acrylic glass cups (fifty to hundred mm diameter).
The skin suction was done using a mechanical device and the negative pressure on the skin was adjusted to a relaxed level. After ten to fifteen minutes, the cups were removed. The sham group got the same therapy, but their glass cups didn’t retain skin suction. The usual care group didn’t get any therapies to treat their symptoms. Examiners assessed therapy outcomes at the study’s beginning, day eighteen and after 6 months.
The primary result of the study was the intensity of pain at day eighteen, however other parameters, like quality of life, functional disability, sleep quality, fatigue, satisfaction, pressure pain sensitivity, and safety were measured at day eighteen and at 6 months. After the therapy, patients described a reduced amount of pain compared to patients in the usual care group, along with a development in certain quality of life aspects (vitality, bodily, pain social role functioning and mental health).
On the other hand, no differences were found between patients in the cupping and sham groups, apart from in bodily pain, at day eighteen. Despite cupping therapy being more effective than usual care to improve quality of life and pain intensity, effects of cupping therapy were insignificant and comparable to those of a sham treatment, and as such cupping can’t be recommended for FM at the current time. So while some of the available studies do suggest a possible role for cupping in treating FM, the conclusive answer to its actual role will have to wait for larger and more rigorous studies to be completed.
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