Cupping Therapy

What the heck. I wrote a post about spoons, so now I’m going to carry on that theme and talk about cups.

Cupping is supposed to draw fluid into the area; the discoloration is due to broken blood vessels just beneath the skin, much like a bruise. Cupping has been popular in Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures going back thousands of years, but increasing numbers of people worldwide have been adopting it. Cupping involves creating suction on the skin using a glass, ceramic, bamboo, or plastic cup in order to draw the fluid. Chinese medicine claims that cupping improves the flow of qi (energy) in a patient’s body as well.

Until I had my first cupping session, I had no idea that cupping even existed, much less what it was. After trying a variety of things to help my right shoulder heal after dislocating it, my chiropractor decided to try this method on me. He was behind me and I couldn’t see what he was doing; he merely told me that it was going to feel like I was being pinched. Visually, I imagined some kind of metal instrument that would pinch my skin.

He applied the first cup and it took everything I had not to cry out in pain (I already know I have a low pain tolerance, but this hurt massively!). With the third cup attached, I was whimpering and close to hyperventilating. By the last one, my eyes were filled with tears and I was trying to push my mind into an out-of-body experience to get away from the pain. Remember, I’m visually imagining these big metal pinchers digging into my skin! So, he walks out from behind me and, while I’m thinking I’m dying, he has the nerve to ask me to start moving my arm! I just lifted my head and looked at him, the tears spilling down my cheeks! I had a tissue in my left hand, but I felt like my entire body was frozen, so I couldn’t even move to wipe my own tears away. So, after Dr. Craig got a tissue and wiped my face, he got me to stand up and he started moving my arm/shoulder in different directions. It didn’t hurt, and later he told me that the areas with suction will tend to go a bit numb. This went on for a good 8-10 minutes and then he easily and quickly released the suction and lifted off the cups.

(In my post entitled “Are you a melter or a chewer?” you can see a photo of the bruises left behind afterwards. Because of those bruises, I got a week ‘free’ from the torture for my next visit.)

Two weeks ago, he decided to concentrate on my arm, because that was where I was experiencing pain with movement. When he put the first cup on, I gasped audibly. The second cup got a very unladylike whisper in which I told him in no uncertain terms that it “hurt like a MF’er!” Yea, I used the words and while I wasn’t proud, they made my point! Finally, they all were on, and he decided it was worth photos!

I swear you can see the flesh being sucked upwards!

Of course, bruising followed! Last week, another session and here is what it left behind:

You can even see some of the still healing bruise from the previous treatment!

Fun this is not. Painful this definitely is. And yet, I will keep going back again and again, crying, swearing and/or gritting my teeth through the pain. Because it’s finally beginning to make a difference! The actual dislocated shoulder is fine, but there has been ongoing pain and inflammation in the nerves, soft tissue and muscles surrounding the area and down into my arm. For the first time, I’ve been able to find and maintain 90% of my ability to reach upward, as long as I don’t jerk it up. The throbbing pain I’d been having in my upper arm when I was sitting still has not happened for two weeks now. I still try things that I don’t think should give me pain and they do, but I’m taking more chances to return tasks to my right arm and hand that I’d delegated to the left side.

I don’t know how much longer it will take to be fully healed. As much as I don’t like cleaning chores, I find myself wanting to do them because I can’t! But I do believe that I am on the road to healing, and while it can be painful, I would recommend this therapy to anyone dealing with inflammation or knots in their muscles, nerves and soft tissue. Besides, I wasn’t planning to be seen in a bikini any time soon (or any time, to be honest!) so no one will see the bruises unless I choose to show them!

Wish me continued luck!

6 thoughts on “Cupping Therapy

  1. Sorry to hear that the application is so painful, but I am happy you are finding some relief! Plus, when you were a kid, didn’t you ever wish you could be polka-dotted?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have never tried this but I am certain my daughter has done it. She has also used acupuncture to some success. I hope your treatments work out so you have freedom of movement again without pain. I covered my eyes when you swore, so everything is ok! 🙂 – David

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I apologized at my next visit. Dr. Craig responded that he’s used to patients swearing at him. I then assured him that I wasn’t used to speaking like that, which should give him so idea how much pain I was in!

    Liked by 1 person

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