Can Cupping Cause Blood Clots?

can cupping cause blood clots

can cupping cause blood clots
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Can cupping cause blood clots? If you’re new to this practice, it’s natural to have a laundry list of questions, especially regarding potential side effects. The circular marks left behind by cupping therapy, often seen on athletes and celebrities, might raise concerns about blood flow and clotting. These marks, while sometimes dramatic-looking, are simply a result of increased blood flow to the area. But the question remains: could cupping disrupt your body’s natural clotting mechanisms and lead to more serious issues?

This article will discuss what cupping therapy is, how it works, and answer the question: can cupping cause blood clots? Let’s start!

What Is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping therapy is traditional healing practice that involves placing specialized cups on the skin to create suction. This suction draw blood closer to the surface, creating the circular marks often seen on athlete’s backs. Proponents of cupping believe it improves circulation, reduces pain, and promotes healing.

How It Works

Cupping therapy utilizes specialized cups placed on targeted areas of the body. Traditionally, a flame heats the air inside the cup, creating a vacuum as it cools. This vacuum draws the skin and underlying tissues upwards. Modern methods often employ rubber pumps for a more controlled suction effect. Regardless of the method, the suction increases blood flow to the area, leading to the visible circular marks. So, can cupping cause blood clots? Well, these marks simply reflect the temporary pooling of blood near the surface and typically fade within a few days.

Does Traditional Cupping Cause Blood Clots?

The concern surrounding cupping and blood clots is understandable. The suction process does draw blood closer to the surface, and some believe it might isolate and remove “stagnant” blood. However, there’s currently no scientific evidence that traditional cupping directly increases your risk of blood clots.

 However, a caveat exists: cupping isn’t recommended for everyone, especially those with heart disease, pre-existing clotting disorders, or who are taking blood-thinning medications. In these cases, even minor injuries caused by cupping could pose a slight risk of bleeding.

The Physiology of Blood Clots

Now that we have the answer to the question, can cupping cause blood clots? It’s time to understand how blood clots form. Blood clotting, or coagulation, is a crucial physiological process that prevents excessive bleeding when leads to the formation of a stable blood clot. Key components in this process include:


      • Platelets: These small blood cells adhere to the site of injury, forming a temporary plug.

      • Clotting Factors: A series of proteins in the blood plasma work together in a sequence of reactions to reinforce the platelet plug with a fibrin mesh.

      • Fibrin: This protein forms a mesh that solidifies the clot, providing structural integrity.

    While blood clotting is essential for healing, abnormal clot formation within blood vessels can lead to serious health issues, such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE), and stroke.

    The Potential Impact of Cupping on Blood Clots

    The question “can cupping cause blood clots?” is common because the relationship between cupping therapy and blood clots is a complex and somewhat contentious topic. Proponents of cupping argue that the increased blood flow and circulation can help prevent clot formation by ensuring that blood does not become stagnant. 

    However, some people raise concerns about the potential risks, particularly in individuals with predisposing conditions for clotting disorders.

    can cupping cause blood clots

    Benefits of Cupping on Blood Circulation


        • Enhanced Blood Flow: The suction created during cupping is believed to increase local blood circulation. This enhanced flow can help deliver more oxygen and nutrients to tissues while removing waste products, potentially reducing the risk of clot formation.

        • Anti-inflammatory Effects: Inflammation plays a significant role in the development of blood clots. By reducing inflammation, cupping may indirectly lower the risk of abnormal clotting.

        • Muscle Relaxation: Tight muscles can compress blood vessels, impeding blood flow and increasing the risk of clots. Cupping therapy can relieve muscle tension, thereby improving vascular health.

      Risks and Considerations


          • Bruising and Hematoma Formation: The suction effect of cupping often results in bruising, which is a collection of blood outside the blood vessels. For individuals prone to clotting disorders, this could theoretically pose a risk if the body’s clotting mechanisms are triggered excessively.

          • Skin Infections and Complications: Especially with wet cupping, the risk of skin infection is present. Infection can lead to inflammation and, in severe cases, systemic issues that might contribute to clot formation.

          • Contraindications: Individuals with clotting disorders, those taking anticoagulant medications, or those with conditions like DVT should approach cupping with caution. The mechanical action of cupping could potentially dislodge an existing clot, leading to severe complications such as a pulmonary embolism.

        Frequently Asked Questions


        Cupping can cause minor blood vessels near the skin to burst, leading to temporary bruising. This is normal and usually resolves in a few days.

        Avoid cupping if you have blood clotting disorders, skin conditions, open wounds, serious health issues, or are pregnant. Consult your healthcare provider first.

        Leaving cups on too long can cause excessive bruising, skin irritation, and blistering. Typically, cups should be left on for 5 to 10 minutes.

        Minor bleeding after cupping can occur, especially in wet cupping. If bleeding is excessive or prolonged, consult a healthcare professional.


        While there is some scientific evidence supporting its benefits, particularly in pain management and muscle recovery, the potential risks, especially concerning blood clots, warrant careful consideration. Individuals with clotting disorders or those on anticoagulant therapy should exercise caution and seek professional medical advice before undergoing cupping therapy. 

        Bradenton Acupuncture and Wellness offers cupping therapy in Bradenton. If you’re not sure if cupping is right for you, please schedule a consultation with us for proper assessment. 

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