If they are doing it in the olympics, should we?

After seeing so many athletes with cupping therapy during the Olympic games, I became curious if this was actually a good therapy for muscular tension.  Of course, I wanted to know the actual Treatment Score and efficacy of cupping on muscular disorders.  I went to PubMed and initially researched cupping therapy, figuring that was too general for what I actually wanted to know.  I was anticipating that I would have to narrow down my search to at least one body part, or one injury type. I was surprised: I found few clinical observations on cupping, and no actual randomized controlled trials. I elected to review the article on cupping in relation to lumbar myofascial pain, as that seemed to be the closest study to what I was interested in.

I went to the Treatment Scores website and put in the information that I had. Unfortunately, the entire article was not available for me to view, so I had limited information to work with. Below are the initial findings I put in the StarBlocks.

The study type only got a quality score of "60", since it was a prospective, controlled study.  The overall quality of the study was given a "B" grade.  However, the actual treatment score for acupuncture with heated lamps, versus acupuncture with cupping, was different. This can be seen in the comparison of the two treatments below.

It does appear that acupuncture can mildly improve symptoms of lumbar back pain.  However, as per above, cupping in addition to acupuncture, actually significantly helps improve back pain more than just acupuncture alone. Those Olympic athletes may actually be on to something!

[Clinical observation on therapeutic effect of cupping combined with acupuncture stimulation at trigger points for lumbar myofascial pain syndrome].

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