Single Cupping Thearpy Session Improves Pain, Sleep, and Disability in Patients with Nonspecific Chronic Low Back Pain

J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2020 Apr;13(2):48-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jams.2019.11.004. Epub 2019 Nov 21.


The objective of this study was to evaluate if a single session of real or placebo cupping therapy in patients with chronic low back pain would be enough to temporarily reduce pain intensity and functional disability, enhancing their mechanical threshold and reducing local skin temperature. The outcome measures were Brief Pain Inventory, pressure pain threshold, Roland-Morris disability questionnaire and low back skin temperature. This is an experimental clinical trial; after examination (AV0), patients were submitted to real or placebo cupping therapy (15 minutes, bilaterally at the points BL23 (Shenshu), BL24 (Qihaishu) and BL25 (Dachangshu) and were revaluated immediately after the session (AV1) and after one week (AV2). The patients showed a significant improvement in all pain severity items and sleep in the Brief Pain Inventory (p < 0.05) and a decrease in disability in Roland-Morris disability questionnaire (p < 0.001). No significant differences were found in pressure pain threshold or skin temperature. No significant differences were found in any outcome of the placebo cupping therapy group. Thus, the cupping therapy is effective in reducing low back pain and decreasing disability after one single session but not in changing skin mechanical threshold or temperature.

Keywords: cupping; disability; low back pain; pain threshold.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points
  • Adult
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy
  • Cupping Therapy*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology*
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold
  • Sleep
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult