knock out Knee Pain With Acupuncture

 

Image result for knee painKnock out Knee Pain With Acupuncture. Each year, more than  20 million Americans seek treatment for painful knee conditions, most of which are due to injury, overuse or arthritis. The knees are the body’s largest joint, acting like big, knobby shock absorbers, and as a result, they’re subjected to tremendous amounts of stress and strain every day.

You use your knees a lot-probably more than you even realize. You use them to sit, to stand, to walk, and just to maintain your balance. And that’s not all: you also spend some time kneeling on them to garden or fix things, and what about bending down to pick up things off the floor, not to mention the athletic types who run.

Unlike some joints that pivot and swivel like those in the wrist or neck, the knee joint is designed to bend and flex in a single plane – up and down. Its range of motion is also restricted, typically to about zero degrees when it’s stretched out straight to about 140 degrees when it’s fully bent. A single misplaced step can cause the knee to twist or overextend, resulting in pain and inflammation in the ligaments, tendons and other areas of the joint that can make even simple movement uncomfortable.  With all this being said, knee pain is one of the most common types of joint pain.

As a practitioner of  Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are some conditions that are a challenge to treat and some that are fairly easy. I like to see patients with knee pain, because acupuncture is an effective treatment, and those patients usually leave happy and feeling much better.

 

Image result for acupuncture and knee pain

Acupuncture has been shown to be  highly effective in treating knee pain  and studies suggest it works in three primary ways:

  • First, acupuncture helps increase circulation to the injured area. When blood flow is increased, all the toxins and fluids that build up as a result of inflammation can be removed more quickly. That means swelling will decrease more rapidly, reducing the painful friction that occurs when swollen tissues rub against each other. Improved circulation also promotes healing by supplying the injured area with an increased supply of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood, speeding up the tissue repair process.
  • Second, acupuncture relaxes and loosens painful “knots” or “trigger points” that develop in muscles and fascia, the layer of tissue that surrounds muscles. Acupuncture works by deactivating these painful trigger points, unknotting sore spots and helping to relax the unnatural tension that can develop in the muscle fibers as a result of injury.
  • Finally, acupuncture works with the body’s own healing and pain relieving processes to help resolve the underlying injury naturally. Researchers believe the technique has an effect on two chemical components that are essential in the body’s natural healing process: Endorphins and serotonin – the body’s “feel good” chemicals. Endorphins are often released following prolonged physical activity, and they’re the chemicals that are responsible for the so-called runner’s high experienced by many long-distance runners and other endurance athletes.

They also act as a natural painkiller, working in the same way strong pain medication works by interacting with pain receptors in your brain so you experience less pain at the injury site. Better still, endorphins can also cause a mild sedative effect, helping your muscles to relax. Serotonin is another “feel good” chemical that’s been closely linked with mood. Like endorphins, serotonins decrease the brain’s perception of pain, which in turn can help muscles relax and improve blood flow to the area.

At Body and Soul Acupuncture, we see many patients who have knee pain. Clearly, the nature of the pain and the underlying cause plays a huge role in the outcome of our treatments. While acupuncture can’t undo structural problems involving your knee, it can help manage the pain quite well, prolong the need for replacement surgery, and speed the healing process. After a detailed intake and health history, a typical treatment would involve acupuncture, the use of far-infrared heat, and electric stimulation to accomplish our goals.

While many people may not think about acupuncture for their knee pain, those who do are pleasantly surprised. A few sessions on the acupuncture table may be all it takes to get you on your feet again

Can Acupuncture Help for Bell’s Palsy?

 

Can Acupuncture help Bell’s Palsy?

Image result for bell's palsy

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, this nerve disorder affects about 40,000 U.S. adults and children each year. This condition often comes as a shock, overnight with most patients waking with facial muscles paralyzed, usually on one side of the face. For most people, Bell’s palsy is temporary. Symptoms usually start to improve within a few weeks, with complete recovery in about six months. A small number of people continue to have some Bell’s palsy symptoms for life.

What is Bell’s Palsy? Bell’s Palsy is an unexplained episode of facial muscle weakness or paralysis that begins suddenly and worsens over three to five days. This condition results from damage to the facial nerve. This nerve controls most of the muscles in the face and parts of the ear.

If the facial nerve is inflamed, it will press against the cheekbone or may pinch, thus causing damage to the protective covering of the nerve causing it to become irritated and inflamed, leading to weakened or paralyzed facial muscles.  This is Bell’s Palsy.

What Causes Bell’s Palsy? A specific cause of Bell’s Palsy in unknown, however according to the Mayo Clinic, it is often related to exposure to a viral infection. Viruses that have been linked to Bell’s palsy include:

  • Cold sores and genital herpes (herpes simplex)
  • Chickenpox and shingles (herpes zoster)
  • Infectious mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr)
  • Respiratory illnesses (adenovirus)
  • flu (influenza B)

There are no diagnostic tests to confirm the presence of Bell’s Palsy, so diagnosing it requires ruling out other more serious conditions, such as brain tumor or stroke. It is important to get evaluated by a trained physician at the onset of any facial droop or paralysis.

What are the Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy? The following are the most common symptoms of Bell’s Palsy. However, each  individual may experience symptoms differently:

  • Rapid onset of mild weakness to total paralysis on one side of your face — occurring within hours to days
  • Facial droop and difficulty making facial expressions, such as closing your eye or smiling
  • Drooling
  • pain around the jaw or in or behind your ear on the affected side
  • Increased sensitivity to sound on the affected side
  • Headache
  • A decrease in your ability to taste
  • Changes in the amount of tears and saliva you produce

Treatment Options: Conventional Medicine Interventions

Western medicine  often treats Bell’s Palsy with corticosteroids like prednisone to reduce inflammation, however these steroids are not without side effects, including weight gain, nausea, acne, headache, disrupted sleep, and restlessness. Other interventions include antivirals, surgery, physiotherapy, and eye protection, -using a patch and eye drops to maintain eye health on the affected side.

Treatment Options: Traditional Chinese Medicine

According to Chinese Medicine, Bell’s Palsy is considered to be something called Zhong Feng,  or an attack of wind. Similar to a cold or the flu. Bell’s Palsy is the result of external wind due to depletion. Simply meaning, that it comes from outside of your body (a virus) and flares up because you’re run down. Over the course of months or even years, behaviors like not eating well, working too hard, not resting or sleeping well, and stress wear you down to the point that pathogens move in, take hold, and make you sick.

Chinese Medicine views the body holistically and treats disease based on patterns of systems of function. In Bell’s Palsy we focus on the main manifestation of paralysis, sensations of heaviness and pain, as well as underlying functional issues such as fatigue and poor sleep. Acupuncturists aim to restore facial function by decreasing inflammation, restoring normal circulation to the face, and supplementing the body’s normal repair mechanisms.

With acupuncture is the primary therapy, we can directly stimulate the affected muscles, reducing inflammation and increasing circulation, as well as using distal points on the body to build the body’s immune system back up and address the stress associated with the condition.

Healing from Bell’s Palsy with Optimal Outcomes.

Bell’s Palsy arises suddenly and usually resolves in 3 to 6 months without treatment. Despite this good prognosis, it is important to seek medical attention at the first sign of facial paralysis to rule out more serious conditions. Beginning treatment for Bell’s Palsy in the first week of symptoms bring about the best chance of full speedy recovery. Both conventional and Chinese Medicine practitioners use the tools of their medicines to initiate quicker healing and decrease the chances of long lasting facial changes. Both medicines recognize the Bell’s Palsy most often affects those with compromised immune systems. People with colds or upper respiratory infections, diabetes, overwork, and fatigue are more likely to experience Bell’s Palsy

Here are some simple precautions to reduce the likelihood that you will experience this disrupting condition

  • Get enough sleep
  • Rest at home and stay warm if you catch a cold
  • wear a scarf, especially in windy weather and cold places
  • Don’t go to sleep or outside with wet or damp hair
  • If you catch a chill or feel run down, drink a warming tea like ginger and cinnamon
  • see your acupuncturist regularly to stay in peak health!

 

 

Acupuncture for Heartburn

Image result for heartburnAn estimated 60 percent of people in the United States will suffer from heartburn over the course of a year and 20 to 30 percent  of Americans suffer symptoms on any given day.

What causes heartburn is actually a muscle in your lower esophagus falling down on the job. The muscle, your esophageal sphincter, usually opens to let food you’ve eaten pass to your stomach, then closes to prevent food and stomach acid from flowing back upward. However, in the case of heartburn or esophageal reflux, the sphincter hasn’t closed properly. This allows the contents of your stomach to irritate your esophagus causing that burning sensation. Overtime, chronic heartburn can deteriorate the base of your esophagus, causing a precancerous condition called Barrett’s Esophagus.

There are a number of cause of heartburn, including eating the wrong foods, stress, overeating, and obesity. In addition, the esophageal sphincter tends to get weaker with age.

Treatment options: Traditional Medicine Vs. Eastern Medicine

The traditional treatment of heartburn includes acid blocker and antacids such as Prilosec, Pervacid, or Tums. These drugs are not cures and only mash the symptoms without addressing the cause. They can also cause unwanted side effects including abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and headaches. Symptoms can even become worse after discontinued use.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acid reflux is related to a dysfunction in the Stomach meridian. Acupuncture works to help direct Stomach energy (qi) downward and corrects the pathology. TCM and Acupuncture do not have any negative side effects and can help to lower gastric acid, adjust esophageal pressure and balance the functions of the digestive organs in addition to reducing stress, which very well may be contributing to your heartburn.

Image result for stomach meridian Several  studies have shown acupuncture to be effective in the treatment of GERD, indicating that symptoms may remain resolved even after treatment stops.

Here are a few tips on how you can treat heartburn naturally 

  1. Helpful foods include: pineapple juice, apples, almonds, ginger and tumeric are all helpful in neutralizing stomach acid and easing heartburn
  2. Take a good probiotic to help repair your digestion and repopulate your gut with good bacteria
  3. Some people can eliminate heartburn by simply drinking water. Water can help to wash the excess acid that splashes into the esophagus
  4. Stress relief: if your acid reflux is caused or exacerbated by excess heat in your body as a result of stress, anger or anxiety, the most important thing would be to address the source of your stress. It that’s not an option, you can also try meditation, Tai Chi/ Qigong, getting more rest and spending more time on relaxing activities.
  5. Try Acupuncture,  with no side effects and studies to back up its’ success, it’s worth a try!

 

One, two, three , four how many sessions more…..

 

One, Two, Three, Four… How Many Sessions More?

You’re ready to give acupuncture a try and want to find out a little more about what’s involved.  One of the most frequent questions first-timers ask is how many treatments it will take to get better.

This is a good question. It’s a fair question, and you deserve an answer. However, because everyone heals at their own pace, I can’t give you a definite answer.

When a patient wants to know how long it will take for something to heal, there are a couple of factors I take into account. Among them:

-How long you’ve had the condition. If you’ve had low back pain for twenty years, it will most likely take longer than the person who began having similar symptoms last month.

-The nature of your complaint or illness. Many conditions  can be quickly resolved with acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine (TMC) , including stress, anxiety, digestive issues, PMS, and many types acute pain. On the other hand, deep-seated chronic illnesses, such as autoimmune conditions may take longer.

-Your general health. I have seen many young and healthy patients surprise me with how quickly they heal. However, older patients, those in really poor health, and those on numerous medications tend to need more time and treatments.

-Your commitment to getting better. What you do at home in between treatments can make a huge difference in how quickly you heal. If you implement your practitioner’s suggestions regarding dietary therapy, heating or cooling an injury, resting, stretches, herbal medicine, and lifestyle changes, you can speed up your recovery.

– How often your treatments are spaced out. Initially, you will always get better, faster results by getting frequent treatments.  Generally, I recommend starting at 2 treatments weekly, as this is the frequency shown effective in controlled studies of acupuncture. Acupuncture is cumulative with each treatment building on the previous one. With treatment starting close together, you are less likely to relapse after one or two days.

That said, you may see some results after a couple of treatments, sometimes not  even related to your main complaint. You may be sleeping better or feel more relaxed, which is the beginning of the healing process. Your symptoms are worse and it’s hard to heal when you’re stressed out or tired.

Sometimes the pain or problem isn’t better after a treatment, but it’s different, and I consider that a good thing, too. When you have a long-standing pain or symptom, your body becomes used to it. That pain becomes your “new normal”, and it becomes a physiological habit. If, after an acupuncture treatment, that symptom has changed, it tells me that we’re beginning to alter that habit and the healing process is under way.

So what do I tell prospective patients when they ask me how many treatments they’ll need? My best answer is that acupuncture is a therapy and while some people may heal very quickly–in just a few sessions–others will take longer. I advise them to give acupuncture a fair try, say five or six treatments, to see how they’re improving. Now, I’m NOT saying POOF, at the magic number of 5 or 6, they won’t need any more treatments, just that at that point, I will have a better idea of how many treatments they will ultimately need to heal completely.

One key to the success in acupuncture as an effective treatment for many conditions, such as chronic pain or chronic depression, is receiving an adequate amount of treatment. In general, one acupuncture session isn’t enough to achieve enduring results; to ensure long-lasting effects, you need a larger “dose.”

For example if my blood pressure is a tad high. I go to my primary care provider and she would likely prescribe medication that I would need to take daily to control it. If I don’t take it regularly or in the right dose, I won’t see my blood pressure drop. Just like the amount and frequency of medication are important to success, so are the dose and frequency of acupuncture and the many variables, including the condition, length, and severity, that determines how much and how often.

When it comes to chronic pain, researchers found one component of acupuncture treatment that was associated with better outcomes: people who attended more sessions had more significant pain reduction, meaning the number of visits appears to positively influence outcomes. This makes sense to those of us practicing acupuncture and TCM in the real world — and it’s true even for non-pain-related cases.

In randomized comparative effectiveness trials (studies that compare different types of treatments), researchers looked at acupuncture for chronic depression and chronic neck pain. The addition of acupuncture (12 weekly sessions) to usual care for chronic depression was as least as good as the addition of cognitive behavioral therapy and superior to usual care alone. For chronic neck pain, the addition of acupuncture (12 sessions) to usual care was at least as good as 20 sessions of Alexander Technique, and superior to usual care alone.

The evidence clearly points to the need for an adequate acupuncture dosage. It’s a vital component to lasting treatment effect, and the number of treatments needed is likely far more than just two or three visits. Keep your eye on the goal and, so long as you are making continuous though gradual improvements, you will eventually discover how many acupuncture treatments you need to get the results you want.

Acupuncture for Tennis Elbow

    Image result for tennis elbow free images      Acupuncture for Tennis Elbow. Tennis elbow is a term used to describe pain that is located on the outside of the elbow. It involves inflammation of the tendons around the bony knob on the outside of the elbow, called the lateral epicondyle. This causes pain and tenderness in the elbow where the tendons connect to the bone as well as pain that refers up and down the arm.

But don’t only tennis players get tennis elbow?  The answer is no. Tennis elbow is called so because of the tendency for tennis players to be affected but it is also commonly seen in weight lifters, carpenters, painters, and those who spend a lot of time typing, raking, knitting, and as I can attest to, driving. When I was in grad school and writing a lot and commuting 90 miles a day to and from school, guess who got tennis elbow! yep me.

Main symptoms of tennis elbow are:

  • Persistent pain on the outside of the forearm near the elbow
  • Pain that is triggered by bending your arm or lifting something
  • Pain that occurs when writing or gripping small objects
  • Pain when turning or twisting your forearm
  • Difficulty with extending the arm

Tennis elbow can be quite persistent. In most cases it will disappear within a year, however it may take longer for others. For some professions, like musicians and sport people, tennis elbow can be very disruptive and affect performance and playing. When chronic, it is classified as repetitive strain injury.

Conventional medicine treatment.  Commonly prescribed treatments for tennis elbow include: rest, ice, using a support strap, taking over the counter pain relievers, and gentle stretching exercises. In severe cases, doctors may prescribe steroid injections, opioids, or surgery. Many people turn to acupuncture when conventional treatments aren’t relieving the pain and they want to avoid pharmaceutical medication or surgery.

How can acupuncture help with tennis elbow?

  • Acupuncture can help by relaxing the shortened tight muscles that are pulling on the elbow. This reduces the pressure on the tendon bone junction so that the body can begin to repair the damage
  • Acupuncture promotes circulation directly over the inflamed tissue, allowing blood to nourish and repair the elbow.
  • Acupuncture reduces local inflammation
  • Acupuncture increases the release of adenosine which is a natural chemical found in our DNA. This chemical helps to reduce pain sensitivity.
  • Acupuncture stimulated local nerves, promoting the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller.

Proven effective in multiple studies.

Acupuncture has been proven effective for relieving the pain of tennis elbow in numerous empirical research studies

over the past few decades. In a systematic review of research published in the Journal of Rheumatology in 2004, six randomized controlled trials were deemed high-quality and accepted for review. All six of these studies concluded that acupuncture was effective in the relief of tennis elbow.Five of the six studies indicated that acupuncture treatment was more effective than the intervention offered to the control group.

Doctors at Mayo Clinic performed a recent study in which they treated 22 people that experienced chronic tennis elbow. These sufferers could not find regular relief with the help of conventional medicine. 80 percent of the participants were able to find last relief with acupuncture

As for my tennis elbow, with an extra boost from acupuncture, it’s all better now! If you would like to learn more about how acupuncture can ease that elbow pain, give me a call or schedule an appointment online.

 

Health Benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong

What is Qigong?

Qigong is an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention.
The word Qigong (Chi Kung) is made up of two Chinese words. Qi is pronounced chee and is usually translated to mean the life force or vital-energy that flows through all things in the universe.
The second word, Gong, pronounced gung, means accomplishment, or a skill that is cultivated through steady practice. Together, Qigong (Chi Kung) means energy work, it is a system practiced for health maintenance, healing and increasing vitality.

Qigong is an integration of physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions.
Qigong practices can be classified as martial, medical, or spiritual. All styles have three things in common: they all involve a posture, (whether moving or stationary), breathing techniques, and mental focus. Practices vary from the soft internal styles such as Tai Chi; to the external, vigorous styles such as Kung Fu. However, the slow gentle movements of most Qigong forms can be easily adapted, even for the physically challenged and can be practiced by all age groups.

Like any other system of health care, Qigong is not a cure all, but it is certainly a highly effective health care practice. Many health care professionals recommend Qigong as an important form of alternative complementary medicine.

The gentle, rhythmic movements of Qigong reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune system. It has also been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive functions.

Those who maintain a consistent practice of Qigong find that it helps one regain a youthful vitality, maintain health even into old age and helps speed recovery from illness. Western scientific research confirms that Qigong reduces hypertension and the incidence of falling in the aged population. One of the more important long-term effects is that Qigong reestablishes the body/mind/soul connection.

People do Qigong to maintain health, heal their bodies, calm their minds, and reconnect with their spirit.
When these three aspects of our being are integrated, it encourages a positive outlook on life and helps eliminate harmful attitudes and behaviors. It also creates a balanced life style, which brings greater harmony, stability, and enjoyment

There are a wide variety of Qigong practices. They vary from the simple, internal forms to the more complex and challenging external styles. They can interest and benefit everyone, from the most physically challenged to the super athlete. There are Qigong classes for children, senior citizens, and every age group in between. Since Qigong can be practiced anywhere or at any time, there is no need to buy special clothing or to join a health club.

Qigong’s great appeal is that everyone can benefit, regardless of ability, age, belief system or life circumstances.
Anyone can enrich their lives by adding Qigong to their daily routine. Children learning to channel their energy and develop increased concentration; office workers learning Qigong to reduce stress; seniors participating in gentle movements to enhance balance and their quality of life; caregivers embracing a practice to develop their ability to help others.
When beginners ask, “What is the most important aspect of practicing Qigong?” The answer is always…“just do it.”

Qigong can be ​a highly effective health care practice.

Many healthcare professionals recommend Qigong as an important form of alternative complementary medicine.

Qigong creates an awareness of our internal health that are not part of traditional exercise programs. Most exercises do not involve the meridian system used in acupuncture nor do they emphasize the importance of adding mind intent and breathing techniques to physical movements. When these dimensions are added, the benefits of exercise increase exponentially.

The gentle, rhythmic movements of consistent Qigong practice can reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune system. Some practices have also been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive functions.

People do Qigong to maintain health, heal their bodies, calm their minds, and reconnect with their spirit.

When these three aspects of our being are integrated, it encourages a positive outlook on life and helps eliminate harmful attitudes and behaviors. It also creates a balanced lifestyle, which brings greater harmony, stability, and enjoyment.

Since Qigong can be practiced anywhere or at any time, there is no need to buy special clothing or to join a health club, however when learning Qigong it is helpful to start with a group or class.

  • Qigong is recommended by:
  • Harvard Medical School 
  • Cleveland Clinic,  Mayo Clinic
  • National Council on Aging (NCOA )
  • National Institute of Health (NCCIH )
  • American College of Sports Medicine ( ACSM )

Those who maintain a consistent practice of Qigong  find that it helps one regain a youthful vitality, maintain health even into old age and helps speed recovery from illness. 

Here are a couple of videos showing what some of the practices look like  and another practice here

I want my patients to become active in their wellness!!!! I’m teaching classes please check the events page for more information.  

Cupping 101

A Brief History of Cupping

Cupping is trendy now, but it’s not new. It’s really quite old-ancient, in fact. Cupping refers to an ancient Chinese practice that has its earliest “official” roots set in the lifetime of a famous Taoist alchemist and herbalist, Ge Hong (281-341 A.D.), who has the most well-known recorded mention of it. The method back then was a bit different-it used animal horns (not cups) to drain pus and blood from boils. For the Chinese, it became a method to dispel “stagnation” below the skin, such as stagnant (stuck) blood and lymph,  improving the flow of energy throughout the body, and dispelling cold from the channels. The cups would be placed over acupuncture needles for these treatments.  The Egyptians, ancient Greece, and Europe also have utilized cupping dating back to the 18th century.

When all is said and done, regardless of who used it first, cupping is an ancient healing remedy that took-like many old remedies- some popular culture to bring it back to life.

What is Cupping?

The term cupping therapy actually refers to a number of different techniques, but they all share one common theme, and that is that a vacuum, or suction, (also known as “negative pressure”) is created inside of a cup pressed on the skin. It is different from massage in that, rather than the muscles being pressed down, they are pulled up.

Different methods of cupping use different materials, sizes, and types of cups. For example, some cups are bell shaped, others round, some are glass, others plastic, and so on.

There are ten types of cupping therapies commonly acknowledged among those who practice, but below three of the most general  and practiced forms.
Stationary Cupping:  This can be done with a number of different types of cups Fire Cupping is the  most basic technique. Any combustible material (usually a cotton ball soaked in alcohol is ignited and placed into the cup. As the flame goes out of the cup it is quickly placed over the selected area of the body. The cooling air and lack of oxygen create a slight vacuum, pulling skin, muscle, and fascia up into the cup. The cup can be left on for a range of time, depending on the person providing treatment and what you’re trying to accomplish. Typically, the whole process (from heating the cup to the removal) is around 15 minutes. Other cups used for this include plastic or silicone. With these, the air is sucked out of the cup while sitting on the surface of the skin, sucking the tissue up into it.

Gliding Cupping:   A thin layer of massage oil is placed on the skin. normally one or two cups are then attached and the practitioner  then is able to glide the cups over the muscles, similar to a hands-on massage.

Flash Cupping:  Flash cupping is a technique used to apply suction to the skin in short intervals or ‘flashes’. This means that the cup is placed on the skin for approximately 5 seconds before the pressure inside it is released and it is taken off again. This is repeated along the area that has been selected for treatment.

What Is Cupping Used For?

Cupping is very beneficial for many conditions including: high blood pressure, sciatica, insomnia, colon disorder, anxiety fatigue, poor circulation, edema, sports injuries, cellulite, nervous tensions, chronic headaches, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and menstrual problems. It is suitable for the treatment of pain, diseases of the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems, some skin conditions, facial paralysis, weak muscles and the common cold.

How Does It Work?

When the body is undergoing a lot of stress-whether it’s the rigorous training routine of an Olympic athlete, or the grueling hours of a jam-packed work week-muscles can get “tight.” Small trigger points of bound up muscle (also called “knots”, although they technically are not) cause pain and sometimes inflammation as circulation becomes poorer and tension builds in the area. By pulling the muscle and the fascia (the thin sheathe which surrounds organs and muscle) one can “break up” the tense muscle. The improved circulation from cupping is also thought to help increase recovery time for strained muscles and help them heal if they have been overused. The thought here is that the more oxygen rich fresh blood you can get circulating through an area, the quicker it will heal/function optimally.

So… Those Marks

The marks left by cupping are not bruises, per say. Bruises are caused by blunt trauma to the skin that cause capillaries and blood vessels to burst beneath the surface. Cupping does not involve any force that causes a bruise, as it is typically defined.  The Western term for this discoloration is Petechia The vacuum formed by Cupping draws up the old non-circulating stagnant blood and sticky fluids from the area, bringing them up to the surface and away from the injury so that healthy free circulation can be restored to the affect area. Thus making space for oxygen, living cells and nutrients for faster recovery. The discolorations fade from hours up to 2 weeks, depending on the amount of stagnation. Although the marks look painful and similar to a bruise, they are not. Patients typically feel immediate sense of relief, warmth, and change.

What does it feel like?

You usually will feel a tight sensation in the area of the cup. Often, this sensation is relaxing and soothing. Depending on your comfort and your practitioner’s assessment of the problem, cups may be moved around or left in place. Normally they are left on for a period of 10 to 15 minutes. One very common area to be cupped is the back, although cups work well on other areas too- mostly on fleshy sections of the body. Cupping does cause the skin to temporarily turn red, blue or purple, especially if there is an injury or inflammation under the area that was cupped. the skin discoloration can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, but is rarely painful. Once the marks have cleared, the procedure can be repeated until the condition or ailment is resolved.

Is It Right For You?

I think it is worth exploring all manners of alternative remedies and healing methods, as everybody has different things that work for them. For those who are afraid of needles, this is an excellent way to avoid that. Personally I think it is best when used in conjuncture with another traditional healing method, such as acupuncture, however, for some cupping alone may be appropriate.