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Forsch Komplementmed. 2011;18(3):122-6. doi: 10.1159/000329329. Epub 2011 May 24.

Medicinal cupping therapy in 30 patients with fibromyalgia: a case series observation.

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Center for Evidence-Based Chinese Medicine, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, China.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the therapeutic effect of traditional medicinal cupping for treatment of fibromyalgia.


A prospective case series was conducted in 30 consecutive patients with fibromyalgia at an outpatient department in a hospital in Beijing. Patients were diagnosed according to the criteria set by the American College of Rheumatology (1990). A bamboo cup, boiled in herbal decoction for 5 min, was applied to Ashi points for 10 min once daily for 15 days. Pain, assessed via a 10-point visual analogue scale (VAS), and the number of tender points were recorded at baseline, 5, 10, 15 days, and 2 weeks following the final treatment.


At baseline, the average pain was 2.63 ± 0.73 on the VAS, and patients had an average of 13.5 ± 1.66 tender points. The pain scores decreased from baseline during treatment (2.22 ± 0.77 at 5 days, 1.78 ± 0.75 at 10 days, and 1.36 ± 0.76 at 15 days) as did the number of tender points (12.57 ± 2.25 at 5 days, 11.2 ± 2.50 at 10 days, 9.33 ± 2.89 at 15 days). A total of 29 patients completed follow-up 2 weeks after the final treatment, which suggested the reduction in pain and tender points was sustained (1.31 ± 0.76 for VAS; 9.07 ± 2.96 for pain points). There were no serious adverse effects as a result of cupping.


Medicinal cupping therapy was associated with a reduction in fibromyalgia symptoms for both pain ratings and number of tender points. The findings from this case series should be tested in a controlled clinical trial.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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