Are you one of the estimated 25 million viewers who have tuned into the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics? If so, undoubtedly you have noticed the round discolorations on the upper back of several of the Olympic athletes, including Michael Phelps.
These suction cup appearing patterns harken visions of the earliest Olympians being on the losing end of an epic battle with a Kraken! However, for today’s trendies it is all part of a voluntary “therapeutic” homeopathic modality called cupping.
Cupping is nothing new, in fact this method dates back to ancient Egypt but just because something has been around for a long time, does not necessarily mean it is your best option. Various methods of cupping are popular now including wet, dry, in combination with acupuncture, etc. The practice consists of cups infused with a flammable substance, ignited, and placed on the skin immediately after extinguishing. The cooling of the cups generates a vacuum effect that draws the skin up into the device resulting in an increase in blood flow to the area, which causes the purplish-red marks. The cups remain in place anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes and this “drawing of the skin” is felt to reduce inflammation, pain, and tension. However, there is no scientific evidence that cupping aides in healing. In fact, a recent article in the Dallas News states it actually can be dangerous.
Thus, we begin our quest to find an alternative that is medically proven and not disfiguring. Here at Northwest Broward Orthopaedics, we have a fully staffed, onsite physical therapy department for our patients’ convenience. David is one of our amazing physical therapists who offers what may not be a quick fix but, if performed as instructed with a professional therapist, will provide more than a Band-Aid approach but actually address the root of the problem for long term benefits.