CALL US TODAY 612-605-7594

Cupping for Back Pain: How It Works and What to Expect

Cupping for Back Pain: How It Works and What to Expect


Dealing with back pain can be a daunting experience, affecting not only physical well-being but also the overall quality of life. In the quest for effective remedies, many individuals turn to alternative therapies, with cupping for back pain gaining popularity as a promising solution. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of cupping therapy and explore its potential benefits for alleviating back pain.

What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping therapy is an ancient healing technique rooted in traditional medicine. It involves placing cups on the skin to create suction, promoting blood flow and stimulating healing processes. This non-invasive method has gained recognition for its potential in addressing various health issues, including back pain.

Historical Background and Origins

Dating back thousands of years, cupping therapy has its origins in ancient cultures such as Chinese, Egyptian, and Middle Eastern civilizations. It was believed to balance the body’s vital energy, promoting overall well-being. Today, cupping has evolved, integrating modern understanding and techniques, raising the question: is cupping good for back pain?

How Cupping Works

How Cupping Works

Study shows that a greater number of patients undergoing cupping therapy experienced a 30% reduction in pain compared to those receiving usual care. Understanding cupping mechanisms is essential for appreciating the benefits it offers in addressing a variety of conditions.

Increased Blood Flow

One of the key mechanisms behind cupping’s effectiveness is its ability to enhance blood circulation. The suction created by the cups encourages a rush of blood to the targeted area, facilitating nutrient delivery and waste removal.

Muscle Relaxation

Cupping promotes muscle relaxation by effectively releasing muscle tension and knots. The suction effect functions akin to a deep tissue massage, lifting soft tissues, fostering improved flexibility, and reducing stiffness in the back muscles.

Stimulation of the Nervous System

Cupping stimulates nerve fibers, sending signals to the brain that trigger the release of endorphins—the body’s natural painkillers. This neurological response contributes to chronic pain relief and an overall sense of well-being.

Anti-inflammatory Effect

By promoting lymphatic drainage, cupping helps reduce inflammation in the back muscles. This anti-inflammatory effect can be particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing musculoskeletal pain.

Conditions and Situations Where Cupping Can Be Effective

Conditions and Situations Where Cupping Can Be Effective

Discovering the versatility of cupping in diverse conditions, supported by findings from systematic reviews, is crucial for understanding its targeted benefits. Now, let’s delve into how cupping effectively addresses the following conditions:

Muscular Strains and Sprains

Cupping therapy has shown promising results in alleviating muscular strains and sprains, with the suction effect aiding in the healing process. This not only reduces pain but also contributes to an improved range of motion and enhanced flexibility, benefiting connective tissue health and promoting faster recovery.

Myofascial Trigger Points

For individuals with myofascial trigger points contributing to back pain, cupping, rooted in Chinese medicine, can be a targeted solution. The therapy helps release these tight knots, restoring normal muscle function and alleviating discomfort.

Chronic Back Pain

Cupping is increasingly recognized as a complementary therapy for chronic back pain and neck pain, showcasing its effectiveness in pain reduction. Regular sessions may provide ongoing relief, enhancing the overall management of persistent discomfort.

Posture-Related Issues

Poor posture is a common contributor to back pain. Dry cupping therapy, in conjunction with posture awareness, can address underlying issues, aiding in long-term pain management. Incorporating complementary treatments further enhances the holistic approach to relieving and preventing back discomfort.

Sports Injuries

Athletes often turn to cupping, an alternative medicine, for its quick recovery benefits. It can assist in reducing inflammation and promoting healing after sports-related back injuries, helping improve pain thresholds and alleviate sore muscles.

What to Expect from Cupping

Before opting for cupping therapy, understanding what to expect during and after a session is crucial, especially given its versatility in addressing a wide range of conditions. Cupping sessions typically involve the following steps:

Consultation: A thorough discussion with the practitioner to understand your specific concerns and health history is an essential part of establishing a personalized treatment protocol.

Preparation: The practitioner will ensure methodological quality by cleaning the targeted area and applying a lubricant to facilitate smooth cup movement.

Cup Placement: Cups are placed on the skin, creating suction. They may remain stationary or be moved around, depending on the chosen cupping technique.

Duration: Cupping sessions usually last 15 to 20 minutes, during which you may experience a mild, comfortable pulling sensation.

Post-Cupping: Cups are removed, and the practitioner may provide post-treatment recommendations.

Possible Side Effects and Risks

While cupping is generally considered safe and offers various benefits for back pain, it’s essential to note that it may lead to temporary side effects. However, these effects are typically short-lived and part of the body’s natural healing response, highlighting the importance of weighing the benefits of cupping against potential side effects.

  • Skin Discoloration: Cupping may cause temporary changes in skin color.
  • Bruising: Some individuals may experience bruising after a cupping session, especially if they have pre-existing skin diseases.
  • Mild Discomfort: It’s common to feel mild discomfort during or after cupping, and practitioners will discuss any potential adverse effects to ensure a comfortable experience.

Post-Treatment Care and Expectations

After a cupping session, staying hydrated and avoiding strenuous activities can optimize the benefits. The cumulative effects of cupping, especially when done regularly, may become more pronounced, contributing to sustained back pain relief. It’s advisable to consult with a medical professional for personalized post-treatment care and guidance.


Does cupping work for back pain? Incorporating cupping therapy into your back pain management strategy can offer a holistic and natural approach. The combination of ancient wisdom and modern understanding makes cupping a compelling choice for those seeking relief from the challenges of back pain.

For personalized guidance and expert care, schedule your appointment with Dr. Peter Stanley, one of the trusted physical therapists at Revival Physical Therapy and Wellness in Minneapolis, today. Take the first step towards a pain-free life!


Q1: How often should you do cupping on your back?

A1: The frequency of cupping sessions depends on individual needs and the severity of back pain. Consult with a qualified practitioner to discuss the benefits of cupping and determine an appropriate schedule tailored to your specific condition.

Q2: What not to do after cupping?

A2: After cupping, to keep pain under control, it’s advisable to avoid strenuous activities, exposure to extreme temperatures, and consuming caffeine or alcohol for a few hours. Allow your body to rest and recover for the best post-treatment experience.

Q3: Can I shower after cupping on my back?

A3: It’s advisable to wait at least 4 to 6 hours before showering after a cupping session, especially if glass cups are used. This allows the skin to fully recover, reducing the risk of skin irritation and ensuring a comfortable post-treatment experience, particularly for individuals dealing with pain issues.

A man with curly hair smiling at the camera, arms crossed, wearing a black polo shirt with logos, standing in a gym filled with equipment.

Dr. Benjamin Britton

Revival Physical Therapy and Wellness

"We Help Active Adults And Athletes Get Back To The Workouts And Sports They Enjoy Without Surgery, Stopping Activities They Love, Or Relying On Pain Medicine."
Scroll to Top