Hijama (cupping) and Referred Pain

Greetings, dear readers

During the usual run of their life, everyone experiences some kind of pain to a degree. Sometimes it is physical, sometimes emotional and sometimes it is referred. Most people are not aware of referred pain. At the very least, they do not recognise it by that name. Some live their entire lives suffering from it without understanding quite what it is. Whereas normal bodily pain, such as the sensation caused by ligament or bone damage, is felt directly in the location of the damage, referred pain can affect parts of the body that may not seem to be connected to the real problematic site. In this post, we will mostly focus on the muscular system and its role in referred pain.

Featuring trigger points and where they can cause pain (1)

Certain health conditions can cause referred pain, for example people suffering from angina, which is a disorder of the heart, have been known to feel discomfort in their neck, shoulders and back. Sometimes, people with muscular problems often experience pain that seems to ‘travel’ or ‘radiate’ down one limb or across specific or non-specific parts of the body. People with who have damaged their deltoid muscles usually feel pain down their arm. Others who experienced pain in their legs or lower back can be diagnosed with problems related to their hip muscles. This is why treatment can be more effective if the source of the pain has been correctly identified.

trigger point
Trigger points usually resemble bumps under the skin or deep within the tissues (2)

One of the main causes of referred pain in the body are trigger points or ‘knots’. These can occur when layers of skin, muscle and fascia, which are bands or sheets of connective tissue, get stuck together. Trigger points can reduce flexibility, instil a sense of numbness in and around the affected area, result in weakness of movement and cause a significant amount of pain. They can form wherever muscle and fascia are located in the body and can appear in clusters. Some are closer to the surface of the skin whilst others seem to be tucked behind bony areas or located in the deeper tissues of the body.

A pain referral pattern linked to a trigger point in the neck and shoulder area (3)

The pain from a trigger point can range from fierce burning sensations to a mild ache, from pain that plays up whenever the patient moves in a certain way to a continuous feeling of discomfort. Trigger points can be caused by repetitive use of a specific muscle or group of muscles, over-exertion, poor posture and health conditions such as:

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome

  • Chronic Stress

Hijama has proven to be a highly effective treatment for trigger points and referred pain associated with them. Trigger points generally cause similar trails of pain in patients that suffer from them, depending on where the trigger point is located. These are called pain referral patterns. At Pure Therapy, we use these patterns of pain to track down where the trigger point may be and investigate the area further with a technique known as palpation.

Palpation cannot be learned by reading or listening. It can only be learned by palpation – Violoa Frymann (4)

Palpation involves the practitioner using their hands to manually examine the anatomy of the patient. By pressing down on the skin with their palms and fingers, a skilled practitioner can feel the bones and muscles of their patient and find any trigger points that may be the source of their pain. Applying suction and massage cupping the site of the trigger point can separate the layers of skin, muscle and fascia that have become stuck together, thus relieving the patient of their pain without having to place too many cups on them nor treating multiple points on their body needlessly.

We hope that this information has benefitted you, our dear readers, and we would love to hear from you. Comments, questions and weekly topic suggestions are always welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Thank you for reading!

The Pure Therapy Team

Images referenced from:
(1) https://jtairmt.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/s9.png?w=640
(2) https://medeakarrarnp.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/img_0634.jpg
(3) http://i0.wp.com/imbuebody.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Scalenes-imbue.png?w=1024&h=1024
(4) http://thebalancemassage.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/man-receiving-massage-.jpg

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