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Cupping Therapy To Relieve Sciatica. Does It Work?

Sciatica is a relatively common condition that affects millions of people worldwide, with roughly 40% of people experiencing it at some point in their lifetime. This is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down to the legs. This pressure can result in a range of discomforts that make day-to-day life challenging. While there are several treatments available for sciatica, cupping therapy is a traditional Chinese Medicine practice that has been recognized as a possible alternative treatment option. 

Cupping for sciatic nerve pain has gained quite a bit of notoriety in recent years, as many people who experience this chronic pain have discovered its powerful benefits. Below, we will explore the effectiveness of cupping therapy in relieving sciatica as well as highlight some other beneficial methods to explore.

sciatica pain

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a condition that results from pressure on the sciatic nerve, which can be the result of a herniated disk or a bone overgrowth. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and runs from the lower back down to the legs or feet. Many people experience radiating pain that can inhibit their ability to accomplish tasks without discomfort. In many cases, this pain is only felt on one side of the body. Some of the most common symptoms of sciatica include: 

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness in the affected area

What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping therapy is a TCM practice that has been used for thousands of years and involves the use of special cups that are placed on the skin to create a powerful suction. This method can be traced back as far as 1550 B.C., when it was mentioned in an ancient Egyptian medical text. The suction pulls the skin and muscle tissue up into the cup, which can help to release tension and improve blood flow. This therapy is primarily used to treat conditions like pain and inflammation and is considered complementary care, as it is generally not sufficient on its own to relieve sciatica pain.

Hijama/wet cupping in bangkok

How Can Cupping Therapy Help Relieve Sciatica?

To put it simply, cupping therapy helps relieve sciatica by reducing pressure on the sciatic nerve. The suction from the cups can help to release tension and decrease the pressure felt by the patient. On top of this, cupping therapy can improve blood circulation in the affected area, which can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

The Scientific Evidence for Cupping Therapy in Treating Sciatica

While there is still limited scientific research on the effectiveness of cupping therapy in treating sciatica, the existing studies suggest that it can be especially helpful with pain management. A 2018 review in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine found cupping to be a method that offers multidimensional benefits for pain. Another study from 2016 published in Pharmacology & Pharmacy found that Hijama (wet cupping) resulted in significant pain reduction in 67% of hospital patients suffering from sciatic pain.

As cupping continues to gain traction in Western medicine, we can likely anticipate that further studies will be completed, particularly in regard to sciatica.

What Other TCM Methods Can Help?

Acupuncture is another TCM method that can be helpful in treating sciatica, and is also used for a wide variety of ailments. Many people use acupuncture to help them with allergies, digestion, insomnia, and even mental health conditions like anxiety. This practice involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to promote healing and relieve pain. In some cases, an electrical current is used to increase effectiveness. The goal of the practice is to stimulate the central nervous system, which can promote the body’s natural ability to heal. Acupuncture has been well-assimilated into Western medicine for quite some time, and has proven to be a tried-and-true method for many people. To experience even better results, patients might consider combining cupping therapy with acupuncture.

What is Hijama (Wet Cupping)?

Hijama, which is also commonly known as wet cupping or bloodletting, is an ATM practice that involves the use of small needles to puncture the muscles in the back to create a vacuum. The vacuum draws out stagnant blood, reducing pain and tension, and promoting faster blood circulation for faster recovery. While it does not directly help with sciatic nerve pain, it can help reduce pain, stiffness, and loosen back muscles, which can be helpful for patients with sciatica who experience these symptoms.

Cupping Therapy for Sciatica at Form Recovery and Wellness

While there is still limited scientific research on its effectiveness, existing studies suggest that it can help reduce pain and improve blood flow, which can be beneficial for patients with sciatica. Combining cupping therapy with acupuncture or other TCM methods may provide better results, and is an excellent avenue to explore. As always, it is important to consult with a specialist to determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs. Form Recovery and Wellness can help guide you as you work together to create a comprehensive treatment plan to suit your personal needs.

Form Physio Rehab Team Photo Happy

At Form Recovery and Wellness, our team-based approach can help you find the right treatment plan for your sciatic pain. Whether it’s cupping therapy, acupuncture, or another TCM method, our specialists can help you achieve relief from your symptoms. Contact us today to speak with a specialist and start your journey to a pain-free life. 




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