Cervical epidural abscess after cupping and acupuncture

Complement Ther Med. 2012 Aug;20(4):228-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2012.02.009. Epub 2012 Mar 28.


Study design: Retrospective case report.

Objective: Report of an uncommon complication of cupping and acupuncture.

Summary of background data: Epidural abscess after cupping and acupuncture therapies is quite rare. Only a few cases of epidural abscess after acupuncture have been reported. The present report describes a case of cervical epidural abscess that developed after cupping and acupuncture.

Methods: A 47-year-old woman presented with swelling and pain in the posterior nuchal region. Magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine revealed a well-enhanced epidural mass at the C1-C3 level that was determined to be an epidural abscess.

Results: The symptoms related to epidural abscess resolved after treatment with antibiotics.

Conclusion: Although a rare complication, epidural abscess is a possibility when applying cupping and acupuncture. Therapists need to be aware of human anatomy in the vicinity of the puncture and must give continuous attention to hygiene throughout the procedure.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods
  • Back / pathology
  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Epidural Abscess / drug therapy
  • Epidural Abscess / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies