The effect of traditional wet cupping on shoulder pain and neck pain: A pilot study

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2016 May;23:30-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2016.02.003. Epub 2016 Feb 27.


Objectives: Wet cupping therapy (WCT) is a traditional complementary method recommended to decrease the symptoms of a lot of diseases and used in the treatment of pain syndromes. In this pilot study, the possible effects of wet cupping therapy on nonspecific neck and upper shoulder pain were investigated.

Methods: Sixty one eligible volunteer participants with nonspecific neck and upper shoulder pain for at least 3 months were allocated. The Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) was used to assess pain scores. Pain scores were recorded before and after wet cupping therapy.

Results: The mean scores of neck pain in study group were 7.02 (SD = 1.8) before and 3.70 (SD = 2.2) after cupping therapy. The decrease of pain scores between pre- and post-test was statistically significant (p < 0.05).

Discussion: It can be stated that WCT has potential therapeutic effect in nonspecific neck and upper shoulder pain. Future full-scale randomized controlled trials will be needed to provide firm evidence of the effectiveness of this intervention.

Keywords: Cupping; Neck; Pain; Shoulder.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bloodletting* / adverse effects
  • Bloodletting* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional* / adverse effects
  • Medicine, Traditional* / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology
  • Neck Pain / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pilot Projects
  • Shoulder Pain / physiopathology
  • Shoulder Pain / therapy*
  • Young Adult