Different Styles of Cupping Therapy

Cupping Therapy can be categorized into three, main, different styles: Hot Cupping, Wet Cupping, and Dry Cupping. One style may have an advantage over another depending on the situation. However, our doctors at ICT Muscle & Joint Clinic largely use different Dry Cupping strategies to treat pain when Cupping Therapy is appropriate.

Hot Cupping Therapy

Hot Cupping Therapy is what people think of with traditional Chinese medicine or have seen in Chinese martial art movies such as The Karate Kid. This style of cupping uses a heat source, typically a cotton ball or match, which is momentarily lit on fire, then placed within a glass cup. The heat source is taken away, which in-turn creates a negative air pressure within the cup. Once applied, the skin is pulled upward into the cup.

This style of cupping may add an additional benefit of warming the skin; however, the variability of how much skin is drawn upward into the cup can greatly vary. Variable factors include: the size of the cup, type of heat source, amount of time cup is heated, amount of time in-between heating the cup and placing the cup on the body, and practitioner’s awareness of desired effect.

Wet Cupping Therapy

Wet Cupping Therapy is the most aggressive form of cupping. This entails a practitioner using tiny blades or needles to create micro abrasions of the skin (i.e. cut marks). Once the person starts to bleed, cups are applied on top of the area to draw out the blood easier.

The objective of Wet Cupping is to increase blood flow and circulation and while decreasing stagnation or pooling of “bad” blood. Because of potential legalities, and proper clean up procedures required by law associated with Wet Cupping (i.e. handling blood) our doctors do not use any forms of Wet Cupping Therapy.

Dry Cupping Therapy

Dry Cupping usually involves an allowable, pre-programmed amount of air decompression within a given cup. This pre-programmed amount cannot be increased over a certain threshold. Because of this standardization, a practitioner can control the outcome of suction easier and more safely.

Dry Cupping Therapy is achieved via a vacuum suction effect. A machine or hand pump is used to pull the air out of the top of the cup.

Why ICTMJC Incorporates Dry Cupping

In our opinion, Dry Cupping is safer and more versatile. Currently, our doctors solely perform Dry Cupping Therapies at ICT Muscle & Joint Clinic. This style of cupping enables our doctors to apply other variables to the treatment because the negative suction volume is controlled.

Dry Cupping can be placed on the skin and simply left alone as seen in Hot Cupping and Wet Cupping. Because of the controlled suction, Dry Cupping Therapy can safely add in movement of a joint, area of the body, or the cups themselves. The addition of movement can help restore pain-free movement faster.


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