Cupping is an ancient Chinese method for treating disease or discomfort caused by local congestion. A partial vacuum is created in cups placed on the skin either by means of heat or suction. This draws up the underlying tissues. When the cup is left in place on the skin for a few minutes, blood stasis is formed and localized healing takes place.

“Cupping has also been found to affect the body up to four inches into the tissues, causing tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages, help activate and clear the veins, arteries and capillaries, activate the skin, clear stretch marks and improve varicose veins.”

Shocking as it may seem, the red marks are not permanent and will fade and eventually disappear in about a week. Caused by an ancient Chinese technique to remove ‘wind’ that is believed to cause the aches in our body, cupping therapy is often the method of choice beyond what a traditional massage offers if you prefer to stay away from acupuncture.


Post cupping blisters can be common indication of damp heat toxins generally caused by sugar, alcohol, coffee, fried foods smoking and emotional stress.

“Cupping therapy has been further developed as a means to open the ‘Meridians’ of the body. Meridians are the conduits in the body through which energy flows to every part of the body and through every organ and tissue. There are five meridians on the back that, when opened, allow invigorating energy to travel the whole length of the body. It has been found that cupping is probably the best way of opening those meridians.

Cupping has also been found to affect the body up to four inches into the tissues, causing tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages, help activate and clear the veins, arteries and capillaries, activate the skin, clear stretch marks and improve varicose veins. Cupping is the best deep tissue massage available. Cupping, the technique, is very useful and very safe and can be easily learned and incorporated into your family health practices.” Source: internet

In short, cupping brings fresh blood to the area and improves circulation and is widely used for aches and pain relief for reasons described above but is also believed to be used to treat respiratory problems, coughs, wheezing and digestive problems. Obviously, this is a procedure that needs to be administered by professionals who know what they are doing and the consequences that may arise from malpractice.

I’ve had acupuncture as well as cupping and have no preference of one over the other. A traditional Indonesian or Chinese massage works for me in most cases when the pain isn’t too bad and the whole idea is meant to provide relief rather than a fix. Cupping therapy is painful (contrary to what some sites may claim) and if you have a low tolerance for pain I suggest you don’t go there. There are a number of cupping methods, fire cupping being the traditional and most effective method. I’ve only ever tried the fire method and according to interpretation, the darker the colour the greater is the presence of toxins or ‘wind.’


  1. Greg,

    Cupping is so widely practised now I’m certain it’s no longer limited to Chinese practitioners who offer this to their clients. In 2004 celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow caused a stir at a New York film premier in a low cut top that revealed her back covered in what appeared to be bruises but other may have believed them to be kinky love bites 🙂


  2. Mikee,

    The glass cups that were used on me were large ones and the vacuum created from each of them was, from memory, intense! I have a high tolerance for pain but even so, I was on the edge of screaming to have them removed. It was that unbearable. Would I do it again given the need? You bet.


    1. I’ve had cupping done several times, in conjunction with accupuncture and allergy elimination. It was a little weird feeling, but not painful at all. And I have a low tolerance for pain. I HATE the needles, but I have COPD and prefer not to take the 5 meds prescribed by the pulmonologist. And it is working. The 3 modalitites are healing me. I tell my therapist she has saved my life, lieterally.


      1. Fire cupping isn’t always painful. If a smaller cup is used, and some lubrication so it can be moved around, it can be quite relaxing. I would suggest that if you are merely wanting fire cupping for the joy of something similar to a massage use massage oil, then simply heat the inside air of one of the fire cups and apply it to the skin. The cup does not get hot, does not hurt (unless you gather too much skin into it), and can be easily moved to provide a very relaxing massage. And there is no reason it should EVER hurt to take the fire cup off. All one has to do is put their finger to the lip of the cup and lightly push down on the skin. It lets the air out of the cup gently without having to cause unnecessary pain.


        1. Cupping is painful when done on problem areas. I had cupping therapy for the first time yesterday. It was done with a cupping machine with which the Dr has control over the strength. She only used 10% of the strength&on certain areas it was excruciating. Most of the painful areas for me were spots in my back where I have injuries from a car accident. Dr told me she normally uses 30% on patients to start feeling results and that she didn’t even scratch the surface w me. If you’re not feeling any pain during cupping then that means its not being done right or strong enough,or that your body has no ailments! Light cupping&cupping done the old way w glass cups probably won’t hurt, but then u probably won’t get any results either.


          1. I’d like to know where idg received his or her cupping treatment where it was administered by a doctor. I have knee problems and I’d like to try cupping. I prefer a machine controlled pressure for cupping and administered by a registered TCM doctor. I’m from Selangor, Malaysia.


    2. Cupping is NOT usually painful, although if you have many cups in a small area, such as in your pictures, initially they can cause a feeling of painful restriction, however this is not usually great and subsides fairly quickly.

      Poor quality cups that do not have wide rims will cause much more discomfort, and also the strength that the cups are applied (the size of the fire which creates the vacuum) has a greater or lesser effect.
      Also the type of condition that the client has will effect the type of sensation felt.

      For you Jan, I would say you have a wind/heat/damp condition, wind heat in the skin creates much more painful sensation and also a slight burning sensation on the skin when the cups are removed, the condensation in the cups is a sign of dampness, the darkness of the circles seen during and after cupping indicates you require more frequent treatment to remove the stagnancy and toxicity.


      1. you dont know what the hell you are talking about so dont open up your mouth if you are ignorant and have not even had it done this is the talk of a fool i am a chinese medicine doctor and cure people every day of severe back bain that they have had for years from doing cupping. when the marks appear they are actually a sign that underneath there is a lot of dead blood and stagnant lymph fluid along with trapped toxins, not everyone you do cupping on gets marks if they do not get any marks it is a sign that there is not need for cupping and the blood is healthy although there is no harm in doing so and it may be preventitive to help circulation and allow fresh blood to move in the channels.


  3. I cannot say that my body is that wired-up to feel the ‘Meridians’ right after a session considering I was overwhelmed with pain to feel much else. Much of the benefits of this practice lies also in the psychology of the whole idea, whether or not you are a believer.

    In a world obsessed with cures from pills, traditional or back to basics methods offer what is known as alternative medicine, we have a choice.


  4. Would love to try this…

    There is a method of massage I’ve had one session of doing called Rolphing(sp?). Supposed to work wonders and really transform the body.



  5. Cupping doesn’t cure you of anything.
    All it does it cause bruising on your skin. There is no evidence at all that it does anything that it claims to do. (apart from hurt)

    If you’re a sucker for charlatans and have some money to burn, then by all means give it a go. But don’t expect it to actually *do* anything.

    I’m sure you can find a bunch of suggestible wishful thinkers who will regale you with tales about how it made them “feel a lot better” but there is a reason why the FDA doesn’t test new drugs with anecdotal evidence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rhys,

      The FDA has also OK’d the use of VIOXX and many other types of toxic pain therapies which have caused death in the thousands.


    2. My husband was in extreme back pain for years. He could hardly walk anymore. Nothing helped. Not even pain medication anymore. He went to Mexico to visit family and his mother talked him into trying this chiropractor woman who did alternative therapies. He went through the painful cupping. Came home a few days later and we noticed he was walking better. Everyday he improved. It last a few months then he starts to have pain again until it is unbearable again and he is crawling up the stairs. He goes back and has it done again.It pulls the sciatic nerve that is being pinched out of the area. It does work. Maybe not for everyone. My husband is not a wishful thinker, either am I. We would not pay $650 for a ticket to fly him out for nothing.


    3. I am curious to know if you, personally, have ever had cupping done. I have and it worked. Most drugs are not fully understood (in terms of how they work) but we accept that they do. And in spite of deaths and terrible side effects we continue going down the pharmaceutical route. Cupping is very inexpensive and effective when done properly.


    4. Rhys, if you don’t know what you are talking about it is best to say nothing.

      I am a practioner of Chinese medicine and have been now for 20 years. I use cupping with almost every client.
      I have seen thousands of clients overcome both minor and major health conditions with the aid of cupping.
      The fact that current scientific scrutiny may not be able to come up with reasons why cupping and acupuncture work there are sufficient studies to prove tehy do.

      Quite frankly it is comments like yours that are charlatan in nature. Get your facts straight.


    5. Rhys,

      Please, at least open yourself up to the possiblity of cupping being a useful tool for getting a very tight “knot” in your back to “let go”. I am 50-something. When I was 13, I hit the back of a parked truck riding a bike (another story, another time), pumping as hard as my skinny little legs would carry me. I’ve been in several accidents since then (only one my fault). I’m also very active and involved in Search & Rescue, so I’m not a couch potato. I’ve suffered pain in my neck and shoulders for YEARS and I’m not kidding. I’ve tried everything, physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, traditional deep muscle/tissue massage, etc. and I just always hurt. Sometimes it contributes to headaches as well. In the last year, I’ve been rear-ended twice, had one car turn right in front of me when I was going 35mph which i hit, and have had two falls in which my head took the brunt of the fall first, then the rest of my body hit. Believe me, I HURT. During a massage session, my therapist suggested cupping as an alternative treatment for my chronic pain issues. I said, “what the hell.” I’m not a suggestive personality with a wishful thinker attitude. I’m just someone who figured, “it can’t hurt”. I’ve had three sessions, two weeks apart, with traditional massages during the off weeks. For the last week, I’ve felt as good as I’ve felt in years. I can actually feel the cupping relieving the pain and tension in the knots in my back. I don’t know how it works really, but there’s no question about it. It works for me. I’m not pain-free yet, but as I said – only 3 sessions and I feel better than I have in a long, long time.

      Liser “How Do You Spell Relief” B.


    6. This article is really old, but Rhys here needed to do just a little bit of research. Even in it’s simplest explanation, all of the well researched benefits from a deep tissue massage can and will be achieved with cupping therapy, especially moving cupping. It’s just a deep “pull” rather than a deep “push” you’d get from a traditional deep tissue massage. Especially if you’re someone with a frail or injured skeletal system ( which would contraindicate deep/hard pressure on your bones) cupping can work serious magic on muscular pain. Ignorance, Rhys. Igonrance.

      Liked by 1 person

    7. You don’t know what you are talking about.
      Obviously, you haven’t had any cupping treatment. It is very effective treatment when you have so much pain in large areas of the body for a long time. Please try and see the difference. You would also sleep very well.

      Liked by 1 person

    8. The FDA is in bed with the Big Pharmaceuticals.. if you depend on the FDA to tell you when something is safe, well then, you are a fool.. why did the FDA allow Vioxx to be sold to the public when it was not safe? it KILLED OVER 250,000 people before being banned.. thats just one pill.. im from the capitol, and know about politics, backstabbing and who the lobbyist are paying off.. only in America can you cure disease through Pharmaceuticals or surgery, chopping things off..only in America can you be arrested and thrown in jail for doing natural proven cures and saying you cured someone.. read Kevin Trudeaus book, What they dont want you to know… you should keep an open mind to natural healing.. 5 billion asians couldn’t be wrong with natural cures.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Rhys,

    Thanks for your comments.

    Cupping is typically offered [in addition] to and after an hour-long massage where my wife and I have ours. Personally I cannot comment nor imagine cupping performed on a tense or “problem” body without some amount of prep.

    An Australian friend read my post and said he’s never had any kind of therapy for the pains he gets from his long hours in photography and he usually just puts up with the pain that lasts for ‘weeks’. Massages can be addictive once you start so you would have to be disciplined as to how frequent you have to have one.

    My right heel developed a throbbing pain that I think was caused by a sports injury and I find great discomfort in long event shoots that require me to move around for hours on end. It’s not difficult to understand that at the end of an exhausting day, you want to drop everything and chill. Problem with aches from my kind of work is you feel the pain only the next day. Adrenalin just temporarily masks until the body has a chance to relax.


  7. Oh my god…i like ur photos nonetheless….but the subject…(faint) this round i have to -1 from the 10 points i give your blogs ahah…

    Anyway the benefits of cupping are evident 😀


  8. Your information about cupping being painful is incorrect. The degree of suction required for each person is different and appropriate to their strength. Refer to the website & read an interview with me for ‘the Lantern’ – an international journal of TCM.


  9. Hello Bruce,

    Pleasure to hear from you.

    I wasn’t suggesting that cupping is in itself a painful procedure but the session I had was indeed painful at the time. While writing my article, I researched several online sites stating that cupping isn’t painful but I have from personal experience found it to be not painless.

    Perhaps the amount of pain I felt was a direct relation to how much suction was required given that my body has considerable amount of ‘wind’ and cupping was highly recommended to fix my aches.

    Dear readers, there’s a wealth of information on should you remain unconvinced about its effectiveness. I’m a photographer and this subject is clearly out of my league and am in no position to suggest what is or isn’t as far as medicine goes.


    1. Hello Jan, I had cupping done today, It felt like a red hot poker was being plunged into my lower back, massage was also very painful so the practitioner felt that cupping may help, as I had heard it was painless I was all for trying…..It bought me to tears, was sooo soo painful 😦 perhaps I have a very low pain threshold, even so, I will not be prepared to try cupping again anytime soon


  10. OMG Whose back is that? I love those repeated patterns 😛 Good Composition!

    As for cupping, who wouldn’t come out feeling good after being “cupped”.


  11. Rhys dont get me started on the FDA, they are the left arm and right leg of the pharma industry. A prime example is the approval of the Verichip aka human RFID chip without proper testing , rather passing it through a loophole.

    So give me cupping any day over Viox 😉


  12. Hi Jan. I just found your article here on WordPress while doing a little more research for cupping. I just had a cupping session in Taiwan and it wasn’t all that bad. I didn’t find it incredibly painful. I found it uncomfortable. It certainly is not relaxing as some people claim.

    Cupping methods vary with each patient and the severity of the problem being treated. Judging from the look of your back, the session must have been pretty intense for that sort of bruising. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone with such dark marks.


  13. whoa those marks are really dark.. kind of like mine when I had a cupping session done 2 days ago. How long does it take for those marks to go away completely? For me, it’s been 2 days and the marks are almost as dark as the first day I’ve seen them…


  14. Healing period varies from person to person and if you are blistered from shoulder to lower back, take a look at them and you’ll see how some fade much quicker than the others. I’ve noticed that even marks that appeared on both sides of the shoulders, one side faded a lot quicker than the other, likely an indication that of the problem area best diagnosed by a qualified practitioner.

    We tend to make many assumptions as to why this happens and we’re also quick to associate this slow fade process to a recent pain we may have experienced and draw our own conclusion–we may be correct in our assumption or we may be far from the truth.

    Coming back to your question, expect to see the marks for another 2-3 weeks and they may completely disappear towards the end of the third week.


  15. I just had cupping done with a magnet inside the glass. I’ve had cupping done with out magnets in the past. She had the cups on for 25 – 30 minutes. When my masseuse not a registered one and one i’ve been going to for several years removed the cups …she said you’ve got bumps on your skin maybe there toxins…she had never seen them before she said.

    I got home and my l/2 my back was covered in round small blisters. It felt like pins and needles. I called my doctor and she saw me immediately. She said she’s seen this type of reaction in the past and was treating it like a burn. My doctor applyed a saline solution and gauze and said to change it daily and apply falamazine (prescription) once a day.

    I called the dermatology wound clinic and Womens college hospital today and spoke to a nurse and she said it could also be a staph infection and needs to be treated with antibiotics if it spreads or a contact infection…apparently the practitioner cleaned the cups with a household product called Fantastic and said she rinsed them very well. I was shocked at her stupidity in cleansing her products that go on peoples skin.

    Any comments or similar experience….Francie


    1. Blisters post cupping can be common it is an indication of damp heat toxins generally casued by sugar, alchoil,coffee,fried foods smoking and emotional stress Your blisters could be kept santitary by apply either lavendar or gentian violet essentaqil oils as they are natural. Re fantasic unfortunatetly this product is sold to the general public and people use it everyday without gloves or mask it is toxic regardless of how or who uses it. has great pics of post cupping excretions. Eaaach person is different and therfore has different results.


    2. Hi Francine, cups that are left on for too long (such as yours were) will cause blisters, if the blisters are left alone, they will eventually diminish, there is nothing to be worried about, however they are unecessary and sometimes uncomfortable. Older people whose skin is not very strong can get blisters much quicker so you would not be remiss to ask your practitioner how long the cups will be left on ………… 5 minutes if often enough.

      The comments such as staph infection and anti-biotics which were apparently given without even viewing the site is not very good advise at all.

      How would you suggest the cups be cleaned?


  16. @ Francine

    OMG! I forwarded your comment to some friends and they were shocked especially those living in the States where there’s a recent outbreak of staph infection. One reader who wish to remain anonymous comments …

    I felt very quesy looking at those pictures, but more so, I am thankful for Francine’s comments. We should all learn from her experience, and through her pain and suffering remind ourselves that there are quacks in this world. Dang them! I hope it is not a staph infection for there recently have been a lot of bad press on its deadliness. I am really sorry for her.

    In your comment, please express my concerns and I hope that she is well taken care of by her doctor. In short, your one “wow” captured the importance of this message.

    and another reader, Matt C said ..

    Oh my, we recently had an outbreak of staph infection in a high school local here, the kind that goes uncurable if not treated w/in 24hrs

    Why your masseuse feel there’s a need to use household cleaning detergent to clean the glass jars is beyond me. Depending on the quality of the glass, cleaning them with hot/boiling water, in my opinion, should be more than enough as this method is also hygienic.

    Be warned however the brims of the jars can develop anomalies/cracks from storage (they are usually kept together in a basket so the tendency to knock against each other when moved). Make sure the brims are checked for smoothness before use. The place I frequent checks this periodically to ensure they are safe.


  17. Holy smokes! This is the first time I have ever heard of the Cupping Therapy to assist with meridian or energy flow. After reading more comments from people who have received therapy ……it sounds scary….Di


  18. I just had another cupping session that follows acupuncture done three days ago. I have done this many times and definitely feel the difference. I do not have this back pain anymore, but still go for follow-ups. I do agree that the cupping doesn’t hurt as much as it is just uncomfortable. I grew up in Poland and we had cupping performed when we got sick. That is another common use for this procedure.

    Being a photographer it is fun to create some crazy pictures with the patterns and designs it makes. Love the photos.


  19. @ Colon Cleanse
    Life is about discovery and as long you keep an open mind to possibilities, you may actually discover Cupping Therapy to complement any health rituals you may have. Aside from the artistic marks that eventually disappears, there’s absolutely no harm in giving it a go!

    @ Edyta
    This is about the only opportunity to photograph body art.


  20. I receny got a cupping therapy done its definitely painful. I got the treatment done due to a disc bulging in L4-L5. After Cupping therpay I am told to be careful for the next 2 months. I am hoping my pain will go forever.
    Jan: Any ideas if this therapy has cured lower back ache issues?



  21. @ TErra
    One [wo]man’s shivering goose bumps is another [wo]man’s cupping marks. I am EEEWWWW-ed (dued) for another if work doesn’t ease off soon. For the first time in weeks, I was able to catch 5 hours of sleep right after lunch not because I could afford the luxury but the body and state of mind needed it badly.

    @ Sam
    This isn’t a subject I have much experience in dealing with disc bulge but I’ve asked a cupping and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner known here as Drifting Cloud to give her comment about the situation you’re in. As a teenager who was careless with the way I would lift heavy things, I had hurt my lower back many times and once while playing I was walking backwards and rear ended a parked car with a loud thud. There was no long-lasting pain that I could recall but I could have very well shifted the bone alignment. Since then, I’ve always lived with persistent backache for as long as I could remember. That meant I could never sit or stand too long and there were times the pain became excruciating from prolonged sitting due to the nature of IT work.

    Then one day I visited an Indonesian masseur and he worked on my lower back and fixed it. You can imagine how happy I was waking up the next morning not feeling the pain that had lingered on for years. That instilled faith in traditional practices that would have otherwise required surgery costing tens of thousands with no guaranteed results. Today, I have a combination of cupping and indonesian massages depending on what’s needed.


  22. Jan,
    Thanks for referring me as the cupping and TCM practitioner. Didn’t recall I tell you about that. 😛

    May I know what do you mean by disc bulging? Do you mean disc prolapsed or some other thing? Have you seen any doctor ( medical doctor or orthopedic doctor) or taken any x-ray to confirm the condition?

    Cupping, as I know so far can only treat muscle problem and not bone problem. If the muscle tension is related to the bone, there is 50 – 70% that the pain can be reduced by doing cupping. You will still need some form of manipulation to be done to fix the problem, especially if it is disc prolapsed.

    Let assume that your problem is disc prolapsed, then in my opinion, you will need more than just cupping. Cupping will only loosen the tight muscle but your disc will still prolapsed. You will need a manipulation or traction of the spine to bring the disc back to its normal position. So you will need to find someone; a trained or experienced masseur or tuina doctor or physiotherapist or chiropractics to help you with it. As in Jan’s case, he got a Indonesian masseur to help him with it. I would suggest you to go to a professional for it.

    If your problem is just muscle sprained on your lower back, then the cupping shall help. But you should go back for regular visit and also to watch out your posture.

    In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we always say, in curing a disease especially when it is related to muscle, 70% is depending on patient’s self awareness, maintenance and concern, 30% will be on the practitioner. So it is the patient’s job to keep himself well and healthy. Posture is especially crucial in prevention of musculo-skeletal diseases.


  23. Jan: Thanks for Referring me to Drifting Cloud.

    Drifting Cloud: I had slipped on the stairs due to black ice and has hurt my back. My MRI says disc Bulging in L4-L5 and L5-S1. Now my Sciatica Nerve was also being pinched due to this. I tried several physical therapists and chiropactors for a year with no avail. Finally i got in touch with Cupping Therapy. Currently my pain has reducued considerably but I have been told to be careful for next 2 months after cupping. I have the same problem as Jan ,my back and right leg both start aching after 10-12 minutes of being in the same position. Hence ever 10-12 minutes I try changing position. As you said rightly 70% depends on Me to maintain a healthy posture.
    Any Advice is appreciated.



  24. Sam,

    Hi there again. The symptoms you mentioned sound like your nerve is being compressed and that is why you feel the pain after being in the same position for certain time.

    What type of cupping are you having? Stationary cupping, moving cupping or blood letting cupping? How frequent is your treatment?

    Anyway, I had come across few patients of mine having the similar problem. May be more serious as 1 – 2 of them need to take pain killer constantly. What I did ( to relieve their pain ) was that I combined the moving cupping and electro-acupuncture as well as electro-tuina to help in relieving the tension on the muscle and that reduced the pain after the 3rd – 5th treatment depending on the severity of the condition. But treatment was done on daily to alternate days basis. Normally by 8th treatment, pain shall be gone and maintenance would be depending on individual.

    Normally cupping is not advisable to be used alone in TCM, we normally used it as an addition treatment for acupuncture or tuina.

    So for that, I think you can try acupuncture or tuina for better relieve of the pain. ^^


  25. Drifting Cloud

    I dont know the type of cupping but I had to lie on my tummy and then after cupping I was told not to move for 20 mins and then It was released.

    I have finished the entire treatment. I am much better currently but again I am told to be careful for next 2 months watch my movements and actions. I sit for long hours at work and have been told to take breaks every 10-12minutes. I also have been adviced not to take any type of painkillers unless the nature of pain is extreme.Now I dont know if I would need more cupping or anything else.

    During the day I am fine but by evening the pain aggrevates. I would then lie down for 30mins and then I am fine again.

    I just hope this is not lifelong pain. I am hoping this cupping cures this permanently. Else I am open other options (as suggested by you, Tuina)

    Thanks, Sam


  26. Sam,

    After reading your message, I am quite sure that your problem is not fully treated yet. You will still need to go for more treatment. I guess what you had was just stationary cupping which will leave you with those mark as shown in JAN’s picture above.

    Stationary cupping only help to reduce the tension of your muscle but not really treating your disc problem yet. I would advise that you go to a qualified TCM Acupuncturist or Tuina practitioner for more intensive treatment. My personal opinion is that Tuina will be much more better as manipulation of the spine can be done to restore the position of the disc if the problem is not serious.

    Like JAN, my patients can get relieved of the pain after the desire number of treatments. Since you still have the pain now, I would suggest you to continue getting some more treatment. I don’t know where you are from so I can’t suggest who you should go to for the professional treatment.

    For the mean time, just be careful with your sitting posture as well as DO NOT turn to one side abruptly.

    Take care.


  27. Well I too had the same marks like JAN and they vanished within a few days. My MRI says Disc Bulging but the Orthosurgeon said this type of bulging is very common with most IT people. Well after a few months of Physical Therapy I had nerve pinching and that when I was introduced to Cupping therapy… and I was in the impression that this will cure 100% as I was told. The Therapist I got treated through also said that the pain will persist and will go within 2 months only if I would watch my actions.Well nevertheless its good I got in touch with this website. I live in NJ, USA. Do you know of any therapists here I could visit.

    Thank you for all your help.


  28. Sam,

    I began my career in IT which lasted 13 years during which I experienced all sorts of pain both physical and psychological. Physical pain being the gnawing pain I had down my lower back and psychological pain that comes with the job. If the disc bulging is a common IT work hazard as your Orthosurgeon said (hopefully not a a condition that may be more than work hazard).

    I’m fortunate to have found a masseur who was patient and knew what he was doing fix my back. It helps also to have a good mattress since we spend a great deal of time tossing and turning for a good 8 hours or so. It’s also during this time that we have no control over our sleeping positions and more often than not, these positions do not do our back any favours. One way to minimise this is to hug a big bolster to sleep—ask any moms they would know just how painful their back pains got when their pregnancy was in the third trimester. Not only does a bolster help align your back, it’s also comfortable.

    CAUTION: Hugging your loved one is not a substitute! 🙂

    Note: I am no longer in IT and have moved on to a more exciting journey in freelance professional photography. It’s exciting not only for the art in photography but for the difference I can make to someone’s life. Read Full Post »


  29. Sam,

    Without actual examinations on you I can just guess about your condition. I hope that it is just slightly bulging at your spine and that the cupping can help to reduce the muscle tension at your lower back. But I am really not sure if it will take two months to heal.

    As for what I encounter, the pain shall go with the treatment. Anyway, if the pain is much reduced now and that you are happy with it. Then just continue with the care of your posture as well as get yourself a good mattress (as mentioned by JAN).

    Do try to search for TUINA in future if that pain still not subside. I am sorry to say that I have no idea who I can recommend to you at this time as I have no contact in the USA.

    Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Shanghai I may still be able to find someone to help you with it.

    Am so sorry for that.

    Do take care.


  30. Hi Back Pains,

    This is perfectly well in relieving muscle related soreness on the back. It helps to loosen up the tight muscle and hence give you a relief on the backache. But you have to keep in mind one thing is that this will help you only 30-40%, the rest is up to you to maintain by keeping the correct posture at all times.


  31. It doesn’t have to be painful. My 11-year-old daughter gets cupped every week because she has real back and neck pain caused by an odd spine alignment. If you have real back pain and aren’t just doing this for a kick, you’d understand that this, when practiced properly, isn’t meant to be painful. She is relaxed and happy and says, Ah, that feels so good. It relieves her pain; it doesn’t cause it. What you’ve put up here, along with your photos is just sensationalistic nonsense.


  32. Sydney,

    I’m a photographer and it’s my job to produce sensational images but “sensationalistic nonsense” is a stretch don’t you think? By that, I mean the pictures were not Photoshopped to look painful. Pain is, I stress, a personal matter and individual threshold varies.

    Under normal circumstances, my wife and I would opt for foot reflexology where body massage/cupping combo isn’t required. However, each time we had cupping, the throbbing sensations of pain were very real and certainly not imaginary. We are regulars to foot reflexology, body massages and cupping as a form of therapy and not a medical requirement.

    I do not see a need to paint a different picture (no pun intended) that cupping is painless. It’s always been painful considering the size of the cups used on adults in addition to the intensity of the suction, the same simply cannot be applied to a child.


  33. Cupping can absolutely be painful if improperly done. But it can be most pleasurable and incredibly healing perform by a good Cupper. Bruce Bentley is right.

    Unfortunately – most people are not properly trained in cupping and the proper application of cups on a patient is as important as proper application of needles, or herbs, or any other form of healing.

    The images shown here are extreme results, and the pictures show them as extreme – the angle and proximity of the shots to the client – as you say in your first word – “Shocking”.

    All very dramatic – but it’s not a fair and balanced representation. It certainly does not represent what is a common outcome for the majority of patients.

    What concerns me Jan – is anybody finding this page, and being uneducated to cupping would probably choose not to receive this therapy – even though it may be exactly what they need. This webpage would certainly scare most people – so you are doing them and Cupping Therapy a great disservice by showing only an extreme case.

    People love sensationalism – but perhaps a bit more balance would do well?

    Jesse MacLean


  34. Pain threshold of individual varies. And we tend to build up the threshold for it as time goes. If you are a person who are used to treatment your pain threshold will build up.

    Also not to forget, for kid, skin on their back are less tense as adult so for kid we can cup more and they don’t really feel the pain.

    There is a sucking effect when you do cupping, whether or not you feel pain or just tense up all depend on how much the skin is being sucked.

    Back in Shanghai where I learnt cupping, those regulars who came to the hospital normally will request the cup to be sucked more as to them that will help them relieve more pain. The tension on the skin to some people can be reflect as pain.

    My teacher in the hospital always said that “no pain no gain”, that we use pain to treat pain. And also normally back in Shanghai, we even just cup while the patient is just sitting down, so if the suction of the cup is not enough then the cup will fall and broke. In order to develop such suction, we will need to suck the cup tightly and this can be painful for some patients especially those new comers.

    And if you are a regular for oriental medicine, you will know that we don’t really use any form of anesthetical method while giving treatment. So most treatments do have a certain degree of pain involve but just a matter of how much pain one can take.

    A person who is used to cupping, will find it relieving after the cupping. And of course they do not see it as pain when the cup is on. They will see it as tension on the skin. But afterall, pain and tension of skin is just a matter of describing them.


  35. @ Jesse MacLean

    I appreciate what you, Bruce and many other practitioners are doing for the community who embrace alternative medicine so our bodies aren’t subject to anymore pills that we have to or are willing to accept. That said, a person seeking or researching cupping therapy has the right to know the entire spectrum of the procedure and also the right to choose or reject such procedures because of fears elevating from my “sensational” images.

    “Dramatic,” “Extreme,” “Sensationalism” are words you’ve chosen to describe my pictures and I’m sure many share your sentiments because that’s the basis in which I had chosen to photograph them (permission from a willing client). Compelling is what I would have used instead but at the end of the day, we view things differently.

    As per Drifting Cloud’s comment, the cliche “NO PAIN NO GAIN” is a strong belief held by many traditional Chinese practitioners and there isn’t a better situation to use such cliche than right now! My wife and I have a high threshold for this sort of pain and we are, as I’ve written, regular subjects of cuppain therapy as I (in my own humour sort of a way) pefer to call it. We have gotten used to the pain that if ever we had a session where it wasn’t “that painful” we might actually believe that the person hadn’t done it right or that our body didn’t have that much of “wind” this time round.


  36. I just had a cupping session on a sore right shoulder and to my amazement, the benefits are unreal. Feel a LOT better.

    But, becareful where you get ‘cupped’ my Brother In-law went to an amateur and his hairy back caught on fire because the ‘practioner’ put the flame a little bit to close.

    Ouch! Now that was painful.


  37. Whoa, never occured to me the risks involved in cupping therapy could be so HOT! I hope your B.I.L. wasn’t too traumatised by the incident that he may need counselling 🙂


  38. wow Jan that looks really painfully, you look like you were doing some ancient ritual or summin. well i have never tried accupuncture or cupping before but cupping does look quite intresting. but for now a simple massage will continue to do me just fine.


  39. @ Drifting Cloud

    Well I am back to post my views about Cupping again. In Jan 2008 I got treated for my Disc Bulging issues through cupping (I had posted my conditions here before too) I was told I would be fine in 2 months.

    It’s Sep 2008 now and I must admit I am feeling wonderful again. I am not running again but at least my activity is back rather than No activity at all.

    Cupping is slightly painful but today I feel it was all worth it.



    1. I just had sliding cupping done this morning. I’ve had mid-back pain for 7 or 8 months now. Been through the traditional medicine route with xrays, MRI, physical therapy and heavy doses of ibuprophen (useless, by the way) and have seen little to no improvement. So I figured what the hell, let’s try some acupuncture and cupping.

      Well, maybe it’s because I had a lot of “toxins” in my back, but that was one of the more painful experiences of my life. Thankfully, it was short. The intense pain only lasted for about 2 intervals of 15 seconds. But I almost leaped off the table at one point. My practitioner said I was loaded with toxins and bad energy (not sure whether I believe all this stuff yet, but I’m still listening) and had some of the worst immediate bruising he’d ever seen. There’s some sensitivity to my skin, but it’s not really painful right now.

      My back does feel a little better, but I’m really anxious to see how it feels long term. And I’m extremely curious to see how long it takes for these hideous bruises to go away. I’ll try to post another message here with an update.


      1. Fred,

        “Toxins and bad energy” is a way Chinese refer to as “wind” and the presence of “wind” causes pain. From time to time I would experience lower back pain and when this happens I would seek the help from my Indonesian masseur for a traditional hand massage. Seems this is the only method I’ve found effective than cupping. I’m of the opinion from repeated experience that is just no substitute for the good old proven hand technique. Thanks for sharing your experience.

        On a related note, I’ve started taking Kordel’s JOINT FOOD which contains Glucosamine + Chondroitin Sulphate. This came recommended by a friend I recently met while on assignment in Singapore. “Glucosamine + Chondroitin” provides nutritional support to joints, ligaments and cartilage which aid in the formation of connective tissue including cartilage and collagen. The labels says “regular consumption help repair joints, reduce joint stiffness, improve mobility and maintain healthy joints and cartilage”. It warns that Glocosamine Sulphate is derived from seafood and may not be suitable for those with shellfish allergies.


    Healing through Suction
    Cupping, called Hijama by the Muslims, is the application of suction cups to the skin to draw out stagnant, congested blood and Vital Force, as well as other stagnant or morbid humors. Usually, the cups are made of glass, but they can also be made of bamboo, bone, horn or metal.
    The classical method for creating suction in the cup is to use fire to consume the air within it. But more recently, squeezable cups with a rubber top, or cups drained by suction pumps are also used.
    Cupping may be done either wet or dry. Dry cupping is simply placing the suction cups on the skin. Wet cupping, or Scarification and Cupping, is a form of bloodletting that involves first making an incision on the skin, then applying the suction cups to suck out small amounts of blood.

    History of Cupping
    Cupping therapy is an incredibly ancient and universal practice that spans both East and West. In the primitive shamanistic practices of all the world’s indigenous peoples, there were certain shamans who specialized in the sucking out of illness and infirmity from the body.
    In the East, the Chinese have been practicing the art of cupping for at least three thousand years. Along with Tui Na massage, acupuncture and moxibustion, cupping forms part of the traditional bodywork or physiotherapy system of TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine. Cupping is applied to the acupuncture points to relieve the stagnation of Qi and blood, both locally and in the organ(s) activated by the point.
    In the West, cupping therapy had its birth in Egypt. The Ebers Papyrus, written around 1550 B.C.E., states that bleeding by wet cupping removes foreign matter from the body. In cupping, the ancient Egyptians saw the remedy for just about every disorder.
    The ancient Egyptians passed the art of cupping on to the ancient Greeks. Both Hippocrates and Galen were staunch advocates and users of cupping therapy. Galen once condemned Erasistratus, a noted physician in Alexandria, for not using cupping. Herodotus, a famous Greek historian and physician, wrote, in 413 B.C


  41. This is fascinating information, for I have, just yesterday, received a cupping session. I am a massage therapist and work in a facility where we are lucky to have an acupuncturist as well. Many years ago I was involved in an auto accident which left my cervical 6 & 7 vertebrae injured. For years it didn’t bother me, but now it is a chronic problem especially when I have been overly busy with massage work, or have been in heavy traffic to long. I do get relief from chiropractic help. It is my left lavader scapula muscle that gets tight and painful

    I asked my acupuncturist if she would be able to help relieve the tight muscles around the injury. She said that I would be a great candidate for cupping. This is my experience:

    I did not feel pain while I was cupped, the cups stayed on about a half an hour. I felt very tight tension, uncomfortable, what I refer to as ‘It hurt so good’. When the cups were removed, my upper back did have a strong throbbing sensation, that felt good as well. Then she did some acupuncture to calm and stabilize my body. 45 minutes later…I felt Great! And did another massage without any pain. Today, a day later, I still have some pain locally on 6 & 7, but the referred pain as quieted down considerably. I think I will continue this mode of therapy until proven otherwise.

    One question I do have is will this technique loosen fascia?


  42. Earlier tonight I experienced the most incredibly painful Guasa Cupping sensation ever. This method involves dragging one activated glass cup across pressure points of the back. Each drag lasted approximately 1 minute and it hurt like hell and I had to put up with 6 drags that I consciously counted before I succumbed to the pain. The guy said to hang in there, just a couple more to go! And I thought it’s all over until he began Part 2 …

    He then placed a basketful of the cups on the bed and positioned them across my back one by one by one until the basket was empty and the sound of them knocking against each other disappeared. With each cup, the pain from the drag was now replaced with localized throbbing pain which slowly eased into a series of numbing tingling sensation!

    I have new pictures from the combined Guasa Cupping procedure which I hesitate to share due to its rather graphic nature.


  43. Hey Jan Shim. I love your post. I live in Australia and have been cupping before to a taiwanese doctor for cupping. because i suffer from a really tense body. I am more prone to gettting injuries. And I don’t know if its from all my past martial arts training or hours infront of the tv and/or computer. Anyway, the thing is I’ve tried both western and chinese physios. And the western physio was great in that me massaged the source of my pain which where my tight gluts mainly. This guy knew what he was doing as he had a Masters in Physiotherapy. And it was heck painful. However, the taiwanese physio who has the qualifications of a A.G.U. PH.D, Member of A.A.C.M.A and a N.C.C.o.M Dipolmatein Acupancture treatment was much more “painful”. The cupping itself wasent painful more of a tight feeling like – he even cupped my bum. But I also have hi tolerance of pain from my martial arts training so that might be why. However, He did to moving cupping and that was more painful then any massage I’ve received in my life- he cupped my back which hurt but he also cupped both sides of my bum which gave me unbearable pains. And to me thats a big thing, because after the western physios massage I would be brusied from the serverities of my injury and tightness. And the marks left from cupping where really really black might I add.

    So my question for you Jan Shim do u think I should stick with the taiwanese physio or western? Given my case of extreme tightness. The taiwanese doctor even said i had a “body of a 60yr” because it was that tight.

    Furthermore, western physio is more expensive and always time focused ie sessions must end within 30min due to the location being near the city. The taiwanese physio also does what he can to help, like goes beyond what is required as in he taught me a yoga sequence that he recommends i perform 100x every morning and every night. Also, he recommended that I dont stay up too late not last 11pm something about the liver and wake up early. And not too eat too much meat because of the toxins. However, the taiwanese doctor also prescribed chinese medicine to drink 2x daily which cost like $6AUD every serving. Which if you add up overall the Taiwanese doctor will cost more.

    My girlfriend is also taiwanese and she was the one who introduced me to the doctor and one of her arguments is similar to what you guys where discussing about the FDA and how western medicine can cause side affects. But something interesting she said was “You’re an Asian, and therefore an asian doctor is more likely going to understand your body better” Now on the surface this does sound stupid but if you think about it it does make sense. Asian, people are less likely to get skin cancer. Western barbers have more trouble cutting asian hair because of its coarseness. And you can argue the human body is all the same we all have hip flexors, a heart etc. However, each body will react to treatment different.


    1. Hi Victor, as you have read, I’m no expert on this matter of physio therapy and I go by whichever method I feel is more effective at the time. You’ve managed to introduce a phenomenon called “tense body” which I hadn’t heard about before. I feel pain from bad postures is easier to “fix” than pain from martial art injuries as I had a long term “dread waking up in the morning” kind of pain that plagued me for many years. An Indonesian massage by a seasoned therapist fixed that for me which I believe no amount of cupping therapy alone would have helped.

      The sort of pain I get these days area combination of long hours in front of the computer (photo editing, blog posting, Facebook etc) and strenuous badminton games—I know I’m exerting myself a lot more than I should but I am competitive and tend to get carried away by one win after the next.

      As for Asian medical practitioners understanding Asian bodies better, it’s a Yes and No situation for me. I would as a matter of practice today not simply accept western medicine as much as I would hesitate when given a Chinese alternative. After the melamine scare, you can imagine I can no longer put any trust in Chinese medicines no matter how traditional and herbal the concoctions may be. I’m sorry I am not help at all with my sitting-on-the-fence reply but these things are complex. Follow your instinct is what I’d recommend.


  44. Also might I add. I’ve been to a few western physio and their treatment just felt too gentle to do anything that why I went looking around for a western physio with more experience (Masters). And initially in the first session he seemed really confident in really knowing how to treat me and identifying the problem. But however, after the third treatment he realised I have a really tight body in general – he looked slightly lost in where he was going to take this from here on, and that really pissed my partner off as you can imagine as the Taiwanese doctor realised that I was extremely tense from day one.


    1. Western physio therapy sessions are a slow healing process. Going back to my back injury, the western doctor I consulted first prescribed a series of back exercises that was going to take weeks and sleeping adjustments to make sure I don’t provoke the injury. I couldn’t accept this and instinctively sought alternative—first Indonesian massage didn’t do much good and relief was temporary at best. I went to see a second one a week later when things did not improve and amazingly his patience and skills massaged my long term back pain away. Since then, I stayed with him for periodic relaxation massages for a number of years until he returned home to Indonesia. That’s my story and I wish you all the best.


    1. Precisely the point. It’s been argued countless times that a ‘properly executed’ cupping session should not be painful yet when I say it’s painful the immediate reaction is to say it’s done wrong. It’s best to accept that pain means gain. Granted each one has different levels of pain tolerance and I know many who simply cannot tolerate the slightest pain.


  45. I had experience cupping a few times myself. Recently I tried the leech therapy which in some ways is similar to cupping in that the therapy is meant to get rid of the “dirty blood” from the body. I posted some photos of someone undergoing the leech therapy here in my blog. Demi Moore the actress was said to have tried this therapy before but am not sure whether it was on her face or other part of her body…


  46. Do you sell those vacuum glass cups ?

    How do you sell and how many in 01 set ?

    I am from Malaysia and would like to own a set for my practice.

    Thank you



    1. Hi Michael,

      Medicine and its associated markets are not in the realm of my profession. That said, I have seen the vacuum cups (plastic I think) for sale in Miri, Sarawak when I last visited a month ago. Don’t exactly remember which shopping center but it was one of the shops that sell Chinese medicine. I just happened to see them on display in a window. With you being in Malaysia, it shouldn’t be too hard to find them, I think.


  47. Hi Jan,

    I’m a big fan of your blog and photos. I really liked reading your blog entry about cupping therapy and have a few questions about it.

    I had cupping done four days ago at a Korean eastern medicine clinic and have two purple-ish/red marks below my neck on my back. My marks look similar to the marks on your back. How long did it take for the cupping marks to completely disappear from your back? My practitioner told me that the marks would disappear in 4-5 days, but that the “fading time” depends on the person.

    My marks have been fading some what (it’s been 4 days), but I’m really scared that they might stay on my back longer. This was my first time getting cupping and I’m just really scared… I think my cupping marks will stay on my back longer… They don’t look like they are going to fade away in another week.. not sure.

    I’d really appreciate it if you tell me how long it took your marks to completely fade away from your back. Thank you so much.


    Hi Grace, many thanks for your support. It’s believed and often purported that darker marks such as purplish indicate a more serious condition and therefore takes much longer to heal. I’ve had marks that took its sweet time to completely fade while others disappeared in a matter of days. Don’t worry, just give it more time and you should be OK. I’ve had some (very faint ones) that lasted over a week.


    1. Thank you for your reply Jan. Still really scared and stressed about having the marks on my back. LOL Thank goodness winter’s coming and no one will see my back for a few months. =O)


      1. You may want to follow Gwyneth Paltrow’s footsteps—she flaunted her cupping marks with bare back dress (perhaps so the marks can catch some sun and air so they heal quicker?) 🙂


        1. LOL If I were her, I’d flaunt my purplish red marks like diamond rings. BAH! I hope the marks fade away by the end of this year so that I can literally have a clean/fresh 2011. LOL


  48. I missed this article until now……so happened I have undergone the similar but mild treatment because of my back problem a couple of days ago. the marks are gone and my back is alright now.


    1. Hello Sara, My last cupping episode (suction and dragging) was so painful that I’ve sworn not to have it done again. Since then I’ve had the occasional hand massages on my muscle aches often the shoulder area, neck and lower back. The concept of fighting fire with fire, in this case, to fight pain with more pain is plain ridiculous unless you’re addicted to pain and gets immense pleasure from it.


  49. For the last 2 days, I had a pinched nerve in my neck which caused pain to shoot down my right arm. My hands/fingers were numb. The pain was quite uncomfortable and I had trouble sleeping at night. My mom recommended that I go see her Chinese specialist who did acupuncture and cupping therapy. I just had my first 30 min. cupping session today. She started out by massaging my neck and then put some electric current batch around the base of my neck and the top of my shoulder. She then stuck 6 glass cups around the spot where she had put the electric currents. I didn’ t experience any pain and whatever discomfort I experienced was nothing compared to the sharp pain of the pinched nerve. Once the glass cups were removed, I can really say that I felt pretty good. I would not say that I am now 100% better….but I do feel much better and the pain has subsided. I plan to follow up with another visit within the week. I googled this topic to see what research I could find. There is a lot of good information on this subject on this page…..Thanks for sharing this….


  50. Hi, I am suffering from severe RA-rheumatoid arthritis. It has been about one and a half year…i have been to so many doctors, but they just wanted to put me on steroids and weekly injections. I was a med student and fully aware of the serious side effects and my heart just didn’t consent to doing that, therefore, i went to India for natural treatment. Even there, initially, I was given mainstream medicine, which seemed to have worked just fine for a couple weeks, then gradually back to the same pain. then I tried yoga, but was told that I should not continue that as I’m at high risk for fracture and something even as simple as yoga can fracture me! This doctor also told me that my body has become too weak for the mainstream medicine, and therefore, put me on homeopathic medicines. Due to the fact that it contains less side effects, if any, for now, I am taking that, since the last four months. I am not sure it is helping, as homeopathic medication usually takes very, very long to take effect. My pain now is so severe that I have difficulty sleeping and doing anything. From my neck down to my feet, all i feel is excruciating pain. There is also a lot of swelling, especially in my elbows, hands, wrists, hips, and knees. The pain is worst in my neck, shoulders, elbows, hands, fingers, wrists, hips, and knees- or rather, i guess I should say EVERYWHERE, ALL OVER MY BODY. I have mobility, however, very limited; sometimes, I cannot even eat or hold the cup to drink my tea. What I want to ask is, is the cupping therapy ideal for me, given my condition?


    1. Sonia please find a copy of the book The Road Back by Dr Thomas Mcpherson Brown former president of the US Rh. Arthritis Association or the follow up book The Arthritis Breakthrough by Henry Scammell and Dr Brown and read it.I assure you will find something better than cupping for RA-as an ex medical student you will be shocked but delighted considering your pain.Please dont consider this as someones sick joke or too good to be true-read the books a.s.a.p. and then see what you think.Best regards from someone who also knows what its like to suffer pain and serious limitations-FMS for me.Graham.


  51. I have had many stomach problems for the past few years now which include acid reflux and frequent indigestion /heartburn after anything I eat. I have always been very skeptical of alternative medicine, but this one time, I decided to give it a shot. I got cupping done today and I feel like it was a huge mistake. The needles in/around it didn’t hurt at all, but the cups hurt SO much, especially because the practioner kept them on for 55 min. When I went home and looked at my back, not only are there dark red rings, but several painful blisters on each circle. I can barely move without them burning, and I’m afraid of them popping and scarring. I’ve covered them with gauze for now since one blood-filled blister popped and it wouldn’t stop bleeding. I am NEVER trying alternative medicine again and I wish I had trusted my initial opinion. Do you have any solutions as to how I can make this go away? It’s extremely painful and I need my full concentration at work and with studying.


    1. Wow. From your description, it sounds as though the cups may have been over done to the point they are on the verge of “exploding” for the lack of a better word. My wife and I have done countless cupping, all very painful but have never once seen one that matches your description. I am not qualified to advise what medicated cream that will calm the blisters down. At some point when your skin starts to heal, the blisters tend to itch (like chicken pox) and often sufferers are given over-the-counter calamine solution. I tend to prefer Aqueous Cream mixed with mint for the adding cooling effect/sensation instead of calamine.

      The lesson learnt here is not that you should “never try” or believe in the benefits of alternative medicine but rather the timing when you should try something you’ve never tried before. For instance, if I am scheduled to leave for an overseas assignment, I would not eat anything out of the ordinary and risk a stomach upset (lesson learnt from some years back).

      Do post back on the progress of your healing.


      1. Hi Jan, thank you so much for your swift response. I went to bed last night with gauze and bandaids on it hoping it would have gone down a bit by the morning, but it hasn’t. It burns every time I move. I haven’t stopped swearing at myself for being stupid enough to try this. Should I cover it up with gauze again for the rest of the day? Or should I leave it open to let it breathe and maybe that might dry out the blisters? I’m worried about that 2nd option because at this point, it’s like an open wound since some of the blisters popped overnight and my back now looks like a scene from an alien invasion movie. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do :(. Once again, thank you


    2. OMG I have tried cupping several times (both in the USA and in Eastern European Russian culture) and NEVER heard of such a thing! With the exception of a slight itching as the spots were healing, I didn’t have any significant discomfort and would never have called this procedure “painful.” I am so shocked at these comments about cupping being painful… And blisters that pop and bleed?? Dear God!


  52. Thank you very much Graham for all of your information. I will surely try to get the book as soon as i can. What kind of treatment are you trying and did it help you any?


  53. I totally love the cupping treatments…I usually take ’em when I have serious pain on any part of my back specially the upper back and the part close to the armpits where the latissimus is … the pain in basically gone right after the treatment … yeah the cup kisses are not so sexy if you want to go to the beach or pool which brings me to my question.

    QUESTION: Does it have any negative effect to go in the sun for tanning lets say 12 hours after the treatment ?


    1. Reference to the FAQ from an internet source, I’m not certain if direct baking of the cupped spots is a good idea. If you feel you must I can only recommend you do the right thing — make sure the spots are adequately covered in high SPF sunblock.

      Is there anything I should do, or not do after a cupping treatment?
      As with any kind of deep tissue work, be sure to drink plenty of water after your session to flush the flotsam and jetsam that have been release by your tissues. It is best not do any kind of strenuous physical activity immediately after your session, nor should you engage in delirious amounts of alcohol or an ice cream binge. Ideally, give yourself an afternoon or evening’s worth of time to allow yourself to soak in the gentle feelings of glide and ease that are the result of your muscles and blood being on good speaking terms. [Source: Yong Kang Clinic]


  54. I have been having cupping and acupuncture for the last month and a half and I can say that it has done more for me than 6 months on medications did. I have been diagnosed with “fibromyalgia” (because they really dont know what is wrong with me) and my doctor has only offered drugs like Lyrica as the solution…an FDA approved drug that will make me gain 50-60 lbs and have suicidal ideation…umm no thanks!

    For me cupping does hurt when they come off. I too have wind/cold in me and am noticing that over time the dark circles diminish and dont stay like bruises for as long. While it feels like a long process, I am seeing results – in the first month my hand stopped being numb – it was amazing to actually feel my hand again. Had I not tried this out who knows how I would be feeling now. I am a believer…


  55. Thanks for posting this. I have had two cupping sessions done for a torn rotator cuff. The acupuncturists said I have stagnant blood. After the first session, there was about a 50% improvement in mobility that has stayed that way. It went up to 80% after the second session, but the second session HURT! I was considering not going back, but after reading your post and other people’s comments, I will. It’s definitely a better alternative than surgery.


  56. Thank you for posting this. I finally did my first cupping theraphy (a vacuum one) and it was very very painful ( and i usually have a high pain tolerance ), i ended up telling her to loosen the vacuum . However after the treatment, I can see that the bruises are deepest in the areas on my body that usually ache. After weeks of shoulder pain (which I keep holding off going to get an x ray done on it), I felt a great relief from the pain after the treatment. I am happy to see that I’m not the only one who felt the pain. I also think that its a great treatment to have if you are feeling that you are getting a cold, my runny nose have stopped the day after.. I’m becoming a fan..


  57. I had my first cupping session a few weeks ago. Have yet to see any results but the guy did tell me it would take a few sessions. Though my back does feel a little better, not as tight and cramped. Yet my main reason for going their was for my legs which I have found no relief. But I am remaining optimistic. The cupping did feel uncomfortable in a few areas, a little painful too, but not unbearable. I am just concerned because it has been two weeks and the cupping caused a few circle blister things, the same as the pictures in the post. However they have yet to diminish at all and still look exactly the same as they did when it was first done. This was almost two weeks ago. Does anyone suggest any cream or something to help these bruises or blisters fade?


    1. Hi Bec. What we normally do (being Chinese and all) to relieve bruise marks is to gently massage the affected area till the skin turns red — the idea here to to improve blood circulation. We believe that if a bruise takes unusually long to recover, it may be attributed to poor blood circulation. Whenever my kids would come back from school with a bruise, a result of accidentally bumping into tables and what not, my wife would immediately massage it and in a day or two it recovers. Contrary to western practices, we like to apply a hot water bag over the area instead of ice pack if necessary, again to promote blood circulation (ice packs may be more useful for injuries to constrict the blood vessels).


  58. I had my first cupping session yesterday and it was an experience. The Dr. did accupunture and cupping at the same time. I have a bad Right wrist and shoulder. She placed cups on both my right arm and left arm. I have a high tolerance of pain so I could handle a good suck. My left side showed almost no discolouration while my right arm showed dark discolouration. Seeing that the cups were on both arms for the same time and pressure proves to me that there is something to it. I feel that if this was garbage or a scam both arms would produce the same mark. Like any massage it takes a lot out of you, so I was quiet for rest of the day. The marks look really dark but are painless and are not swollen or blistered (I didn’t get heat/fire cupping). The littler marks have already showed improvement and have faded slightly. I did however look into this treatment after having x rays and MRIs done on my wrist and shoulder and after my MD reccommend accupunture treatments.


  59. uhm well hello there. I have a question my mother had a dry cupping therapy. But after the therapy she had on her left shoulder a very dark mark with blisters. The blisters were light pink and round like a water drop. What is the meaning of this? i’m really worried about my mother so please help me.


    1. The effects of cupping is concerning to many people because the (alternative) practice itself is NOT accepted by mainstream society so there is a hesitancy to accept ANY affect it might cause. Many cultures use cupping regularly and these minor “side effects” are common, easily accepted and temporary, unlike some of the permanent and often devastating side effects of our pharmaceuticals and even diagnostic procedures. Cupping is not harmful and your mom is fine.


        1. Hi there,

          I also had one area of dry cupping that blistered, however I have had cupping therapy many times and this only happened to me once. In researching the issue, I found several possible causes of blistering when cupping: deep emotional stress, smoking, alcohol, deep old toxins that have been released, etc. My blisters broke, scabbed over, healed and went away. I’m fine. 🙂


    2. Interesting how many readers have blisters from cupping. The only person whose cupping sessions I get to observe are that of my wife’s and there were no blisters which just piques my curiousity more as to how they’re formed. The dark mark in my non professional belief just means presence of ‘toxins’ (I’m constantly reminded over the years that the darker the colour the more toxins, it is generally believed). Blisters, I think that’s another story.


  60. Well, I’m very upset with this type of therapy as my husband came home yesterday with 9 LARGE dark red sunburn like patches covering his whole back – deep red and full of blisters. I was totally beside myself as they are uncomfortable and hurt. Some of them even have blood blisters on them that have broken. Could this acupuncture person have done this incorrectly? She’s always done the traditional needle acupuncture and he has been fine. I’m concerned with INFECTION when these blisters break.


  61. I’ve been in the massage therapy field for nearly 20 years now, and have been using cupping therapy for the last 11 years or so. I have a regular client of 11 years that I’ve cupped nearly every season (1xq1-2wks)..but I’ve never gotten blistering results like I did 3 days ago. The treatment used was no different than past treatments, so these results worried my client and I both! I did a biomagnetic blanket treatment on his back, worked on his legs then went to remove cups from entire back & discovered blisters, some were clear yellowish hue and all areas like this were cold. Any incites to glean from this or suggestions for or regarding client??


  62. I had cupping done first time today! I sobbed through the entire process – soooo sore! I now have these intense purple marks on my shoulders, neck & back – I fear they’ll never go away 😦 I’ve never seen a bruise so purple & splotchy before – should I be concerned?


    1. Unlike the others who reported painful blisters, your “intense purple marks” will eventually disappear like I’ve seen them on my wife’s back. Exactly how long it’ll take to disappear completely depends on the individual – I’m guessing 2 weeks maybe 3.


  63. I would have a massage daily (thankfully my spouse is a massage therapist/nurse and trained in reflexology/accupressure and fire cupping) but the pain would only go away for 2- 5 hours, next morning when the pain came back I would be taking advil(or stronger) painkillers and topical painkillers (Tiger balm, Omega or Ice Cold.) We ordered a cupping therapy kit (Vacuum with magnets) and use it on Sunday or Monday, I go roughly 4 -5 days without pain versus massage therapy. My spine is slightly curved and I have 2 herniated discs that I know of and so far Cupping therapy has given me hope versus meds, accupuncture, deep tissue massage and neck/back exercises.

    Cupping therapy has felt good and the odd time painful but the pain doesn’t last long, for me I feel location and the size of the cup can change how much pain you feel. Personally I feel that vacuum cupping is better for me, I can control how much suction I want and they are extremely easy to remove versus fire cupping.

    My spouse taught me how to apply the cups to my back (considering I can reach ) and honestly its pretty simple, anyone with half a brain could do it, although, it always feels better when someone else does it. If you’re looking for a vacuum cupping kits you can find them online for a very reasonable price. Cupping isn’t for everyone as meds don’t work for everyone so do what makes you feel good!


  64. I’m a huge fan of cupping! I do it myself though with the Bellabaci Cupping therapy system. Its silicone cups that you can use for placement or massage and they don’t break! Bought them online through Amazon. Get some!


  65. I had cupping treatment together with tuina massage and acupuncture. It works best in this combination. I had a really bad eczema behind my right ear and very dry skin in general on my arms and legs.Also I suffered fatigue and low energy. Sometimes I felt chocked up . After 3rd treatment eczema disappeared completely. Anyway I continued with treatment as my practitioner advised more treatments due to stiff back and dry skin. I never had pain as I always exercised in a past and still, including doing regular yoga practice. But some abnormalities in spine are caused not only by injuries but also by bad posture due to stress, hard work, some from childhood, genetics, …

    Only after 7th treatment during cupping blisters started to show. Suddenly, most of my back was covered with it. And couple of parts on the front as well. Blisters have to be punctured and water together with toxins needs to come out. Otherwise will go back in your system. Can be painful and show a burning sensation on your skin for couple of days after. It is not pleasant exp. Also, considering toxins are coming out you can also feel depressed and have low self-esteem. After couple of treatments more on some points of my back mucus with blood appeared. Only than I started to feel better and more energetic. After certain time some of the spots on my back were cleared and nothing appeared on it and next day you could not even see any mark where cup was placed. But some spots just continued to ooze nasty things and heal each time the toxins came out completely. My dry skin improved drastically. Not everyone has this kind reactions. Only the ones that have blockages.Some of the patients did not have blisters at all and for them 10 treatments were more than enough. (10 treatments are enough to align your spine and get rid of build up toxins in your body and to clear all blockages).

    So, from my experience I would only advise cupping with tuina massage and acupuncture done by registered doctors of TCM.


  66. I need help! About a month ago I was working in new york , next to the place that I was working it was this Chinese massage place I had anxiety for some time so I asked for a massage she started to put the cupping on me at the , moment I found it not too uncomfortable and I have very little tolerance for pain, the same night I had severe pain in my stomach and I haven’t been able to function since I had never serious health problems in less than a month I have colitis fever and to this day my inside hurts I been in and out of the hospital I don’t know what is wrong with me I just want my health back I am in fear for my life I still feel like my back is on fire and is taking over the rest of my body if somebody had and advice od now that this can be this wrong please email me at please help



  67. Thanks for useful inf… Please let me know if u have some studies as well personal experience dealing with sciatica treatment by cupping… Thanks


    1. I recently had cupping done by a new osteopath. Hes toun with only 12 years experience. He suddenly gave me cupping on my lower back. It hurt. I now feel sick nauseous for the second day afterwards and my lower back is aching and pinching. Whereas i did not have this before. I previous went to an osteo before i moved to a regional area and he was a genius. Not creating any pain on my discs. I feel this young osteo doesnt have the same experience.


  68. I recently had cupping done to help for some nerve pain in my neck and right arm. One of the cups was placed on the back of my right shoulder, close to where my arm meets my back and is extremely painful now. None of the other marks hurt at all, however this one really hurts. I went to a doctor who has practiced cupping for years. Why does this one spot hurt so much still?


  69. if I ever, ever left marks like that on my wife, I would be arrested. this practice borders on quackery and should be stopped immediately. shame on all of you.


Be real. Let me know what you think ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.