Cupping (Hijama) in Rheumatic Diseases: The Evidence

Mediterr J Rheumatol. 2021 Dec 27;32(4):316-323. doi: 10.31138/mjr.32.4.316. eCollection 2021 Dec.


Although practiced initially for the alleviation of pain, cupping therapy (Hijama in Arabic) has been used for a variety of medical conditions, including autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases, with variable outcomes. In recent years, scientific research on the effectiveness of cupping in the treatment of various diseases has accelerated. Relevant literature to identify the types of cupping along with its association with certain rheumatic conditions was screened through a search of the online databases (MEDLINE, PubMed, and Google Scholar) for an indefinite period. Many reports have drawn serious rheumatic side effects which led medical providers to raise the voice against its practice. Moreover, the rare induction of rheumatic conditions has been partly referred to the immunomodulatory effect that cupping exerts in the body. Cupping therapy still needs more evidence to be labelled as therapeutic procedure for rheumatic conditions. Many studies agree that cupping works best when used in combination to pharmacotherapy. Other studies find no clinically significant beneficial role.

Keywords: alternative medicine; cupping; rheumatology; safety.

Publication types

  • Review