Cupping and carpal tunnel

July 25, 2009


If you are a fan of the red carpet you may have noticed Gwyneth Paltrow exhibiting strange red marks on her body. This new celebrity treatment is endorsed by people as diverse as Britney Spears and Patsy Kensit and is an updated take on an established therapy in use in China, India, Arabia, Central Europe and parts of Africa. Used mainly for improving circulation, digestive and respiratory problems it now appears to be helpful for pain relief – particularly for those suffering from Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) – and I believe for RSI for those operating computer keyboards all day.

A new German study at the Immanuel Hospital in Berlin took 52 sufferers and randomly assigned them to a cupping programme or a placebo treatment. Their study, published on 25 June in a peer journal, confirms that this external suction technique is effective for providing temporary relief of pain from carpal tunnel syndrome.

How it works:

The treatment group had the wet cupping glasses applied in an area over the trapezius muscle. Cupping is applied to defined zones of the shoulder triangle which are connective tissue zones at the shoulder-neck region. The cupping creates a partial vacuum as the wet cup adheres to the skin – and also a rather obvious red mark which can take a while to go down. Unlike Gwyneth, you might want to avoid backless dresses until the mark disappears.

Results were impressive and showed that the patients experienced a highly significant decrease in CPS pain and other symptoms. Just one single treatment improved the ability to use the hand and wrist, and improved the quality of life as pain was decreased.


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