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Cupping by Stephen Kaplan, L.Ac.

Cupping is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that can be used to alleviate many issues associated with pain, stiffness, tension and spasm including pain from fibromyalgia, arthritis and skin problems, by correcting the qi, or flow of energy, or eliminating blood stagnation. It often is done in addition to acupuncture.

The cups that are used generally are of round glass or plastic construction. A cup is applied to the skin and body surface, usually on a flat and muscular area such as the back, shoulders, chest or abdomen. Air is pulled out of the cup creating a vacuum seal that keeps the cup attached to the skin and body. This vacuum inside the cup is the therapeutic mechanism. It creates a pulling sensation on the surface of the skin, stretching the underlying fascia and smaller blood vessels, often leaving a red mark or bruise. The bruise indicates simple damage to the tissue that will safely and effectively heal with fresh tissue and a stronger immunity. This is very similar to weight lifting, where muscles are ruptured in order to grow larger.

What is the purpose of all this?

The purpose of the stretching and circulating is to dissolve local stagnation, tension, spasm or stiffness in underlying muscle and tendon regions and improve circulation and alleviate discomfort or pain. Once the blood circulation has improved, the pain and muscle spasms will subside. Acupuncture in general and suction cups in particular are very effective in reducing pain without side effects or addictions to prescription medications.

Stephen Kaplan is a licensed acupuncturist who also offers cupping at Shang Acupuncture Center, located at 177 East Washington Ave. in Pearl River. He can be reached at 735-4282 or

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