Document Type : Research articles


1 Department of Iranian Traditional Medicine, School of Traditional Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran

2 Traditional and Complementary Medicine Research Center, Sabzevar University of Medical Sciences, Sabzevar, IR Iran

3 Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran


Context: Neck pain is a prevalent complaint. Several clinical trial studies were conducted to evaluate the effects of cupping therapy on neck pain. The objective of this study was to assess the evidence for the effectiveness of cupping therapy as an intervention to conservative management of neck pain. Evidence Acquisition: We performed a systematic search in PubMed, Ovid, MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, a web of science, and Iranian medical databases through March 2017 without time restrictions. All clinical trials were done on non- specific
neck pain, where at least one of the therapies assessed pertains to cupping therapy, were included in the study. Outcomes were pain intensity (e.g., Visual Analogue Scale, VAS), disability (e.g., Neck Disability Index, NDI), quality of life on the SP36 questionnaire, and other outcomes due to neck pain. A meta-analysis was performed to assess the effectiveness of cupping in managing neck pain. Results: Meta-analysis of five trials revealed significant differences in pain relief in favor of cupping therapy compared with the control group (VAS 100 cm, MD, -0.84 (-1.22, -0.46),                  I2 = 54.7%). Furthermore, a meta-analysis of six studies revealed that cupping
therapy was clinically superior to the control group in patients with neck pain (SMD = -0.60 (-0.86, -0.35), I2 = 16.4%). Assessment of quality of life using the SP36 questionnaire showed that cupping therapy increased the quality of life in patients with neck pain compared with the control group (SMD = -0.56 (-0.20, -0.92), I2 = 51.4%).
Conclusions: This study provides some evidence that cupping therapy may improve treatment of patients with neck pain.