Effectiveness of cupping therapy for low back pain: a systematic review

Chia-Yu Huang1,2, Mun-Yau Choong2,3, Tzong-Shiun Li2,3 1Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Plastic Surgery, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan, Republic of China 2School of Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan, Republic of China 3Department of Plastic Surgery, Tainan Municipal An-Nan Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan, Republic of China Correspondence to Dr Tzong-Shiun Li, Department of Plastic Surgery, Tainan Municipal An-Nan Hospital, No. 66, Sec. 2 Chang-He Rd, An-Nan District, Tainan City 70965, Taiwan, Republic of China; li.tsa2{at}msa.hinet.net Received 25 April 2013 Accepted 8 July 2013 Published Online First 25 July 2013

Cupping therapy has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of several chronic conditions, such as low back pain, chronic arthralgia, radiculopathy and respiratory disease.1 Dry and wet cupping (with controlled bleeding) are the two main types of cupping therapy. Other subtypes of the treatment are cupping with retention (keeping cups on the skin or acupuncture points for 10–15 min); moving-cupping (sliding cups over the skin or acupuncture points with lubricants); shaking-cupping (moving cups up and down repeatedly on skin or acupuncture points); quick-cupping (removing cups immediately when the skin is sucked in); and balance-cupping (composite manipulation, each dose including cupping with retention 6–8 min, moving-cupping four times, shaking-cupping three times and quick-cupping three times).

Nowadays, an increasing number of patients have shown an interest in using cupping therapy …