Cupping therapy offers relief from chronic pain
Patients with chronic pain may benefit from cupping therapy, which is safe and attenuates pain intensity, according to the results of a meta-analysis.
Researchers searched multiple online databases for randomized controlled trials evaluating the effects of cupping on pain intensity and disability in patients with chronic pain. Risk of bias was estimated using the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool.
The meta-analysis included 18 trials (n=1,172), most of which were limited by clinical heterogeneity and risk of bias.
Pooled data revealed that cupping therapy exerted large short-term effects on pain intensity compared with no treatment (standardized mean difference [SMD], –1.03, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], –1.41 to –0.65), although the effects did not differ relative to that conferred by sham cupping (SDM, –0.27, 95 percent CI, –0.58 to 0.05) or other active treatment (SMD, –0.24, 95 percent CI, –0.57 to 0.09).
For disability, cupping had medium-sized short-term effects compared with no treatment (SMD, –0.66, 95 percent CI, –0.99 to –0.34) and with other active treatments (SMD, –0.52, 95 percent CI, –1.03 to –0.0028). The effects were similar relative to that of sham cupping (SMD, –0.26, 95 percent CI, –0.57 to 0.05).
Adverse events occurred with greater frequency among patients treated with cupping vs no treatment. The incidence rates did not significantly differ in comparison with sham cupping or other active treatment.
The findings highlight cupping as a potential treatment option for chronic pain, the researchers said. High quality trials are hence warranted, as current evidence is limited by the clinical heterogeneity and risk of bias.