The body, made of live tissue requiring blood circulation, has arteries buried deep inside the body's system. Smaller arteries penetrate through muscle and soft tissue to reach the surface area. The body's natural reaction to pain complicates matters when pain causes a secondary muscle contraction. When the muscles constrict, the blood supply is choked off causing the surface to become eschemic. Eschemia produces secondary pain to the surface area.
The cupping technique (also known as forced congestion) increases circulation to targeted areas. The instrument or "cup" is circular in shape. The technique involves igniting an alcohol soaked cotton ball, gripped by a hemostat, then held inside the opening in the "cup" to heat the air within. Once the air within is hot, the cup is flipped over and placed onto the body's surface. The hot air is now in contact with the skin's cooler surface, causing a vacuum, lifting and stretching the soft tissue allowing blood vessels to dilate freely at the cupping site.
Cupping combined with acupuncture causes a reflex mechanism within the body's system. This reaction within the body's internal system helps to reduce or eliminate pain and promote circulation.