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New Cupping for back pain research.

Image from: de Melo Salemi et al (2021)

It is reassuring to see an emergence of more dry cupping research with improved study methods. I always joke that unless a research study has a comparison group then it’s not really research! – Hilarious I know 😊 .

To put this in context, if you offer clients something therapeutic, they will feel probably feel better, if you compare this to a group that knowingly receives no treatment then this is not a fair comparison. The research trick is to ‘blind’ the participants to the treatment. This is impossible with massage as you simply cannot offer a pretend or fake massage.

In their study, de Melo Salemi et al (2021) compared two groups undergoing treatment for lower back pain which included five sessions of dry cupping. One group received the cupping intervention and the other the sham intervention.

The sham intervention group had the cups applied in the same way as the intervention group, however the cups had small holes that caused a rapid loss of vacuum. Double sided adhesive tape was then used to maintain the cups in position.

The results favoured the ‘real cupping’ group who experienced increased pain reduction and improved function when compared to the sham cupping group.

One of the outcome measures is represented in the graph below.


Image from: de Melo Salemi et al (2021)

Conclusion: This study adds some moderate level evidence for the use of cupping in back pain management and provides a novel way of delivering sham cupping for future studies.

As I write this, I am planning our first 2024 Cupping RockPods course which is going to held online over three consecutive evenings. This one is full but check out our course diary for more options. https://www.rocktape.co.uk/product-category/education/ 

Reference: de Melo Salemi, M., Gomes, V.M.D.S.A., Bezerra, L.M.R., de Souza Melo, T.M., de Alencar, G.G., de Mélo Montenegro, I.H.P., de Melo Calado, A.P., Montenegro, E.J.N. and de Siqueira, G.R., 2021. Effect of Dry Cupping Therapy on Pain and Functional Disability in Persistent Non-Specific Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies14(6), pp.219-230.

Lawrence, D., 2023 A Practitioner’s Guide to Clinical Cupping: Effective Techniques for Pain Management and Injury.

Available: https://amzn.to/3vyFUFA