thumbnail-55Today I received a great compliment. A 6 year old I have been treating with acupuncture and massage since she was 6 months old, asked her mom if she could come and see me for a treatment. I see a lot of children of all ages in my practice, but I had yet to hear of a patient so young knowing just what her body needs and to request to come in for a “tune up”.


This young girl has been having shoulder and back pain. Her parents and teachers notice she arches her back frequently and they wonder if it’s a nervous tick or a muscular injury. There have been no injuries or accidents in the recent past to affect her back.


After a short intake and diagnosis by looking at her tongue and feeling her pulses, I chose to use cupping to treat her back. Cupping is a traditional Chinese medical treatment that is used all around the world. It is a natural therapy though it can leave markings of circles or redness at the area it was applied for a few days. My young patients and I call it the Octopus Treatment, because it feels like (we would imagine) an octopus is sucking onto your back! It does not hurt, it may tickle a little bit. Sometimes the hardest part is having the children lie down, when all they want to do it turn their heads and see these cups sucking their back.

Cupping - Montpelier and Williston, Berlin, Barre & Washington County, VT

Cupping kids can be applied with glass or plastic jars. The traditional method involves extracting the oxygen out of the jar with a flame and then quickly applying it to the area. Modern methods use plastic cups and plungers to create a suction. My own children, ages 3 and 5, prefer the plastic version of the cups.   Even though the flame does not heat up the cup, fire can be scary so they’d rather avoid it.

Cupping Kids Uses3366Octopus1

  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Cough
  • Back Pain
  • Shoulder Pain


Cupping is a great treatment options for kids. I recommend seeing a licensed acupuncturist for this technique, as they can diagnose various musculoskeletal and pulmonary issues and apply the technique safely. A Vermont Licensed Acupuncturist can be found at the Vermont Acupuncture Association www.vtaa.org or find an acupuncturist in other states at www.nccaom.org

My little patient did great! She reported her shoulder and back pain was gone after the visit, but still asked to come back next week because “it felt so good”!


Kerry Boyle is a nationally board certified and licensed acupuncturist in Montpelier and Williston, Vermont. Her private practice, Integrative Acupuncture, works in affiliation with UVM Health Network- Central Vermont Medical Center, to provide complementary and natural health care to patients of all ages. Find her at www.acupunctureinvermont.com and www.facebook.com/integrativeaom