Treatment After-Care 

After cupping therapy, it is not common to experience sore skin and what looks like bruising.  This is both an expected and wanted effect of the treatment.   The color and pattern of the marks depends on the level of stagnation in that area.  If marks do appear, they can range from very bright to dark purple, usually lasting from a few hours to up to two weeks – sometimes longer if the person is very sick and sedentary.  

While the marks look painful, they should not be.  If there is no stagnation present, there will only be a light pink mark which disappears in a few minutes to a couple of hours.   Sites where there is old trauma or injury may require multiple cupping treatments to remove all stagnation.  You will find in follow up treatments that the marks will be visibly lighter as the pathogens are systemically removed from the body.   


Excessive or heavy exercise
Hot Bath, Hot Tub, Sauna, and Steam Room
Sunbathing/Tanning Bed
High sodium meal and food
Excessive alcohol and caffeine
Treatments to expel or dissolve bowel or bladder contents (eg, diuretic, enema, suppository)

The Benefits

Cupping therapy has a host of health benefits that can often outweigh modern medicine and has been shown to safely treat a variety of conditions, including:

  • Respiratory infections

  • Blood disorders, such as anemia and hemophilia

  • Joint pain caused by arthritis and fibromyalgia

  • Migraine and tension headaches

  • Muscle aches and stiffness

  • Fertility and gynecological disorders

  • Skin problems such as herpes, eczema and acne

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

  • Mental disorders, anxiety and depression

  • Food allergies and asthma

  • Varicose veins and cellulite

  • Respiratory Issues and Colds

  • Chronic Disorders and Infections

What we do know from the limited scientific studies that have been done is that cupping works by expanding the capillaries and increasing the amount of fluid entering and leaving tissues.  Cupping advocates believe that the practice helps remove harmful substances and toxins from the body, which in turn improves immunity without the need for drugs.  Besides this, cupping therapy seems to provoke a relaxation response in some people, which means it’s useful for lowering stress and its negative effects.

Cupping Therapy

Back2Life   |  Dr. Doug Nagel, Chiropractor, Herndon, VA

Not a Bruise, but a "cup Kiss"


1033 Sterling Road, Suite #103, Herndon, Virginia 20170

Doug  Nagel, Doctor of Chiropractic 

What It Is

Relatively unknown to most people living in the West until recently, cupping therapy is an alternative therapeutic method that has been popular in China since around 1000 B.C.  Cupping is becoming more popular in the U.S. and other Western nations too, as some doctors have started implementing cupping, chiropractic, and acupuncture into their patients’ treatment plans to naturally alleviate symptoms of pain, congestion, and chronic disorders - without the need for drugs.   Cupping therapy supporters believe that the practice helps remove harmful substances and toxins from the body, which in turn improves immunity.

How It Works

Cupping therapy involves the use of cups applied to an area of the patients’ body in a series of positions in order to produce suction.  The vacuum effect targets areas of skin and deep tissue, which is beneficial for dulling pain, breaking up deep scar tissue, and relaxing tender muscles or connective tissue.  In this way, cupping is almost like the opposite of getting a massage.  Instead of applying pressure to swollen areas, it draws pressure out.  For this reason, cupping is often done in patients who experience chronic back pain, muscle knots, tightness, tenderness, swelling or stiffness.

 The cups are placed down on the patient’s skin, and as oxygen is removed, suctioning naturally occurs.  The cups contract while on the patient’s skin, which causes suctioning, so the skin is then pulled into the cup, stretching out skin tissue and improving blood flow, which facilitates healing.  

Is It Safe?

Cupping might sound a bit scary to someone who’s new to the practice, but rest assured that cupping isn’t usually painful and trained practitioners are very careful to sterilize equipment.  During a cupping session, it’s common to feel some heat and tightness around the cup, but many people find this to actually be relaxing and soothing.

Cupping has come a long way since it first originated in terms of hygiene and improved safety standards. Today, most cupping practitioners use rubber gloves and alcohol swabs to reduce the risk for contamination or blood transfer.  As cupping becomes more popular on a global scale, more nations are mandating that safety guidelines be carefully followed, which is good news for patients.

Cupping is considered a safe practice, but it’s important to find a well-trained practitioner who is licensed and follows legislated guidelines.  While the different cupping techniques seem to be similar in terms of effectiveness, dry cupping is likely the safest since it doesn’t involve needles or blood.  

Cupping should be avoided if the patient is experiencing a skin infection, inflammation, ulcer, or sensitivity.  It’s also not recommended for pregnant women since not enough research has been done to shown it’s safe.  Keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for skin discoloration to develop after cupping, which can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.  Although discoloration appears, this is not bruising.  For people with bleeding disorders or who are prone to bruising easily, cupping should be avoided.    Because it causes temporary discoloration in most people, this can become problematic for those who don’t heal well from bruises.

1033 Sterling Road, Suite #103, Herndon, VA  20170