Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, MBA, PhD, PA-C


Objective: The objective of this selective Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) review is to determine whether or not “Dry Cupping Therapy is effective for non-specific chronic neck pain in adults?”

Study Design: Review of 3 randomized controlled trials (RCT)

Data Sources: All studies were published in peer-reviewed journals found in PubMed or Cochrane Database.

Outcomes measured: Patients were divided into two groups, the experimental group or the control group. Patients in the experimental group received dry cupping therapy. Patients in the control group received no therapy at all, normal standard of care (physiotherapy, sports activities, analgesics), or progressive muscle relaxation. The primary outcome measured was chronic neck pain intensity at rest via a 11-NRS scale in one study, or a visual analog scale (VAS) of 0 mm to 100 mm in the other studies with 0 equaling no pain and 100 equaling the worst pain. In one study, patients were asked if they had experienced relief from pain by answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’ using an Adequate Relief Scale. A secondary outcome included chronic neck pain related to motion (VAS). In Cramer (2011) the VAS was 0 – 10 cm. For both measures, a baseline was measured before and after treatment. In all three RCTs, there was no long-term follow-up.

Results: In two out of the three RCTs, (Cramer – 2011 and Lauche – 2011), results of dry cupping therapy vs control proved to cause a decrease in pain at rest and with motion and reached statistical significance (p ≤ 0.05). In Lauche 2013, the results showed that for every 5 people treated 1 person experienced relief from pain with cupping. Additional results showed there was not a statistically significant decrease in pain between cupping and progressive muscle relaxation therapy, but that there was a change from baseline for both. The studies did not follow long-term treatments, so its unknown if pain relief is lasting.

Conclusions: Based off of the three reviewed RCTs in this paper, it is indeterminate whether or not dry cupping is effective for chronic non-specific neck pain.