If you have found acupuncture or massage therapy to be beneficial for your fibromyalgia syndrome, you may also be interested in trying other types of alternative therapies. Alternative therapies often offer fibromyalgia patients significant pain relief without the added side effects caused by traditional treatments. Cupping therapy is becoming quite popular among fibromyalgia patients in both Europe and the United States. This therapy helps to reduce muscle pain and stiffness and increase blood circulation through the use of suction.
What is Cupping?
Cupping therapy has been adapted for use from a form of traditional Chinese medicine. This type of therapy uses glass cups applied to the skin to help relieve pain, flush out toxins, and restore healthy blood flow to the body. Using heat or a suction pump, a vacuum is created inside of each glass cup. These cups are then placed on various acupuncture points throughout the body and left for about ten minutes.
Types of Cupping
There are two main types of cupping:
- Stationary Cupping: During stationary cupping, each glass cup is left in one position on the skin. The glasses are not moved.
- Massage Cupping: During massage cupping, the glass cups are moved around the skin in a massage-like technique.
History of Cupping
Though cupping may sound scary at first, it has actually been around for thousands of years. It was first used by various indigenous tribes in Africa, Asia, and South America. These tribesmen used hollowed-out horns to remove poisons passed through insect and snakebites. It was also used in traditional Chinese medicine to help prepare people for surgery and to divert blood from wounds.
Throughout the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, cupping was commonly used to help cure common colds and chest infections. Nowadays, cupping is making a big comeback. In the United States, it is offered by many massage therapists and acupuncturists, with various celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow, taking advantage of this ancient technique..
The Benefits of Cupping
Whether or not you are suffering from symptoms of pain or muscle stiffness, cupping is a great therapy. It provides numerous benefits including:
- improved circulation and blood flow
- toxin release
- faster healing of muscles, ligaments, and tendons
It also works to reduce pain and soften stiff muscles and tissues.
Cupping Therapy for Fibromyalgia
Cupping therapy is especially beneficial for people suffering from fibromyalgia. If you have fibromyalgia, you know how tender your muscles and joints are. Even a vigorous massage can send your body into spasm. Cupping, however, is a non-irritating type of treatment. It will not exacerbate your muscle pain in anyway, or compound any of your fibromyalgia symptoms. It is especially good for:
- reducing trigger points
- increasing muscle flexibility and range of motion
- decreasing anxiety and depression
What to Expect During A Session
At your first cupping session, you will probably notice quite a few different tools that will be used during your treatment. These include:
- glass cups
- cotton balls
Though these implements may worry you, rest assured, this is not a painful treatment. You will lie down on a massage table and your therapist will first locate areas that require treatment. Once these areas have been identified, the cupping procedure will begin.
- A candle is lit and used to light on fire a cotton ball that has been soaked in alcohol.
- This cotton ball is then held inside a glass cup, creating a vacuum.
- The cotton ball is removed and the cup is placed immediately on your skin.
You will feel a slight suction where each cup has been applied. Typically, between four and six cups are applied during one session. These are left on the skin for no more than 15 minutes. If you are receiving a massage cupping treatment, oil will first be rubbed over your skin. The glass cups will then be moved over your skin to help massage sore muscles and joints.
After the Cupping Treatment
After your cupping treatment you may notice some red marks in the form of circles on your skin. Don’t worry – this is a sign that the cupping technique has worked to increase your circulation. You will also feel deeply relaxed and the areas that have been treated will feel flexible and light.
Finding a Cupping Therapist
Cupping therapy is available at various different spas and holistic treatment centers around the country. If you are interested in trying cupping, it is probably a good idea to ask your massage therapist for a recommendation. Costs per session vary, depending upon the skill of the therapist and the length of the treatment. A typical session can cost anywhere between $50 and $100.