Effectiveness of self-management of dry and wet cupping therapy for low back pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Wei Cheng Shen, Yih Kuen Jan, Ben Yi Liau, Quanxin Lin, Song Wang, Chien Cheng Tai, Chi Wen Lung

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Low back pain (LBP) can significantly affect a person's quality of life. Cupping has been used to treat LBP. However, various cupping methods are typically included in evaluating the efficacy of cupping therapy. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to evaluate the evidence from the literature regarding the effects of dry and wet cupping therapy on LBP in adults. Dry and wet cupping therapy are analyzed categorically in this study. METHODS: We searched for randomized clinical trials with cupping in LBP published between 2008 and 2022. In dry or wet cupping clinical studies, pain intensity was assessed using the Visual Analogue Scale and present pain intensity, and the quality of life intensity was measured using the Oswestry disability index. RESULTS: The 656 studies were identified, of which 10 studies for 690 patients with LBP were included in the meta-analysis. There was a significant reduction in the pain intensity score with present pain intensity using wet cupping therapy (P < .01). In addition, both cupping therapy groups displayed significant Oswestry disability index score reduction compared to the control group (both P < .01). The patients with LBP have a substantial reduction by using wet cupping but have not shown a considerable decrease by using dry cupping (P = .19). In addition, only wet cupping therapy groups displayed a significantly improved quality of life compared to the control group. The study had a very high heterogeneity (I2 > 50%). It means there is no standardization in the treatment protocol in randomized clinical trials. In the meta-regression, there was statistically significant evidence that the number of treatment times and intercepts were related (P < .01). CONCLUSION: The present meta-analysis shows that wet cupping therapy effectively reduces the pain intensity of LBP. Furthermore, both dry wet cupping therapy improved patients with LBP quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere32325
Number of pages13
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 23 2022


  • Oswestry disability index
  • Vsisual Analogue Scale
  • Pain intensity
  • Present pain intensity
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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