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RiverView Patients Report Decreased Pain with New Cupping Therapy

Hospital news | Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Whether you have pain or want to improve your overall wellbeing, RiverView Health's cupping services may be just what you need.

Cupping is an ancient form of therapeutic medicine with origins dating as far back as 1,550 B.C. Therapeutic cupping is applied to assist with pain management, inflammation, blood flow, and relaxation. The benefits are achieved by creating a negative pressure environment over the treatment area through suction. Various tools can be utilized, such as glass, silicone, bamboo, and pottery.

RiverView Health Physical Therapist Caitlyn Michno has been offering dry cupping and massage cupping in Crookston since January. She is a certified myofascial (muscle) cupping practitioner, utilizing silicone cups for patient safety and infection prevention measures.

Increased Movement, Less Pain

One of the multiple benefits of therapeutic cupping is the ability to address myofascial adhesions, or "sticky spots," in a patient's layers of tissue/skin that occur following inflammation or scar tissue formation, Michno reported. The decompression that occurs through the negative pressure environment allows for increased fluid volume between the layers of skin, which helps break apart the adhesions to improve the movement of the layers of skin. Michno uses this approach when patients report "pulling" or "tightness," especially long after surgery.

"I am grateful to report quite a bit of success with the practice," she shared. "What I have been most excited about is the noted improvements in patients with chronic low back pain, especially those who have undergone multiple surgeries and continue to suffer from disabling pain. This patient population in particular often has a significant amount of myofascial adhesions as a result of recurrent inflammation to the affected area and multiple surgical scars. Cupping has been the most effective intervention I have found to address the adhesions and 'tightness' to the low back. The patients I have worked with have reported significant improvements in their day-to-day movement and pain."

According to Michno, cupping also helps to increase the brain's awareness of the treatment area. "Studies have shown that people with chronic pain often have decreased sensory representation of that area of the body in their brain. By performing cupping therapy, we can increase blood flow and the brain's awareness of that area, and with time, that leads to increased sensory representation of that area in the brain. If our brain is better able to identify what is going on in that area of chronic pain, it is better able to tell whether or not it needs to be in pain. This often leads to a reduction in pain."

Along with relief comes some minor bruising, a common patient concern, according to Michno. "The discoloration that occurs does not indicate injury or damage to that area. Instead, it tells us what sort of chemical response is occurring as a result of the treatment. The indicated chemical response does not change our treatment approach or course of treatment. In ancient times it was viewed as more significant and represented the effectiveness in withdrawing toxins and obtaining balance within the body."

Treatment for a Long List of Ailments

Healthy patients (anti-aging treatment, rejuvenation purpose) and those suffering from ailments find wellbeing and relief through cupping. Localized conditions that benefit from cupping therapy include headache, lower back pain, neck pain, and knee pain. Systemic illnesses aided through cupping therapy include rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, mental disorders, heart disease, hypertension, and infections. Cupping can treat skin diseases, respiratory, musculoskeletal, digestive, reproductive, and allergic conditions.

Benefits of cupping include:

  • Reduced pain and inflammation
  • Increased blood flow
  • Added relaxation, wellbeing and deep tissue massage
  • Safe, non-invasive, and inexpensive treatment
  • Rejuvenation of body organs
  • Facilitates the healing process and strengthens the immune system

Cupping is considered a manual therapy intervention and is billed and covered by insurance as part of a typical therapy visit.

If you are interested in relieving pain or gaining relaxation through cupping, call RiverView's Rehab Services Department at 281.9463.

Pictured top right: Caitlyn Michno, DPT, provides dry cupping and massage cupping at RiverView Health.

Pictured below: Michno uses silicone cups for dry and massage cupping.