The Use of Wet Cupping for Persistent Nonspecific Low Back Pain: Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial.
To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of wet cupping therapy as a single treatment for persistent nonspecific low back pain (PNSLBP).
Randomized controlled trial comparing wet cupping versus no treatment in PNSLBP.
Outpatient clinic in three secondary care hospitals in Saudi Arabia.
Eighty eligible participants with PNSLBP for at least 3 months were randomly allocated to an intervention group (n=40) or to a control group (n=40).
Six wet cupping sessions within 2 weeks, each of which were done at two bladder meridian (BL) acupuncture points among BL23, BL24, and BL25. Only acetaminophen was allowed as a rescue treatment in both groups.
The Numeric Rating Scale (NRS), McGill Present Pain Intensity (PPI), and Oswestry Disability Questionnaire (ODQ) were used as outcome measures. Numbers of acetaminophen tablets taken were compared at 4 weeks from baseline. Adverse events were recorded.
At the end of the intervention, statistically significant differences in the three outcome measures favoring the wet cupping group compared with the control group were seen: NRS score, 29.2 (95% confidence interval [CI], 24.6-33.8) versus 57.9 (95% CI, 53.3-62.6), respectively; PPI score, 1.17 (95% CI, 0.96-1.4) versus 2.3 (95% CI, 2.1- 2.7); and ODQ score, 19.6 (95% CI, 16.5-22.7) versus 35.4 (95% CI, 32.3-38.5) (p=0.0001). This improvement continued for another 2 weeks after the end of the intervention. Acetaminophen was used less in the wet cupping group, but this difference was not statistically significant. No adverse events were reported.
Wet cupping is potentially effective in reducing pain and improving disability associated with PNSLBP at least for 2 weeks after the end of the wet cupping period. Placebo-controlled trials are needed.