In My Cups

October 28, 2015

About a month and a half ago, I went in for my first-ever acupuncture treatment, recommended, believe it or not, by my Kaiser doctor. She said acupuncture is a good strategy for dealing with the inflammation caused by arthritis and she suggested I see the guy at the local holistic health center.

So I did.

At my initial appointment, I spent the first 20 minutes of the session going over the sad little story of my hip, and Brian, the acupuncturist (whom I’ve heard about for years and years), listened intently and wrote lots of things down. He finally directed me to the table and began examining the ridges and valleys of my hip (some of which shouldn’t have been ridges and valleys) and conclusively determined I have hip dysplasia (something pretty common in dogs, but, as far as I can tell, less common in humans). Hip dysplasia is exactly what it sounds like… an out of alignment hip joint. The bone that usually fits snugly into the socket somehow gets loose. He had a collection of model skeletons in his office he used to demonstrate exactly what happens as the bone slides even slightly out of place.

How does this happen?!

Maybe it’s the result of age, or late-age pregnancy, or too much sitting, or all of the above. Hard to say how long my right hip’s been out of whack, but it’s probably been a minor irregularity for quite a while (I’ve called it a hitch in my git-along for a few years now). Minor until it flared up, which was probably the result of some added trauma, like: dancing like a crazy person for hours in heeled boots (on New Year’s Eve last year), and then maybe walking too many miles, over too many days on relentless up-and-downhill paved surfaces in another pair of heeled boots (over the Jan 3rd weekend in La Jolla), and maybe following that up with some intense hip-stressing exercises at Fitness Garage (on Jan 7th), and capping all that off with a long, New Year’s resolution-style session on the Stairmaster (on Jan 8th)… which totally sent it over the edge and into a riot of spasms. I did not recognize this as a so-called flare-up, and certainly didn’t know what to do with it for months and months. Except try everything under the sun to fix it, once I could sort of walk again.

So maybe that’s what’s going on… hip dysplasia, exacerbated by a flare-up.

Who knows.

But for sure Brian said the bone is a quarter to a half an inch or so out of place, and nearby ligaments and assorted related tissue are stretched and stressed, which has caused all manner of irritation and inflammation, and a whole cascade of impacts downstream (and upstream and every whichway-stream).

So Brian explains all this and his explanation resonates so strongly I want to scream YES YES YES, this is exactly what I think is going on. Makes perfect sense!

Then come the needles… a whole bunch of needles that he punched through the top layers of my skin. That, I assumed, was the star of the show, and was weird enough, until he started setting fire to alcohol-soaked cotton balls and inserting them into glass (or bamboo) cups, and faster than a flash placed said cups in strategic locations around my hip joint.

The burning cotton ball, as it turns out, sucks all the oxygen out of the cup, so that, if you’re quick enough and place the cup upside-down on a patch of skin, it acts as a powerful suction cup. It latches on and becomes a giant hickey generator, is what it does. The objective is to draw and pull stuff up from beneath the surface of the skin–in my case, the suction is strong enough to realign tissue and bones.

Is that weird!?

The effect was immediate and pronounced, and it truly blew me away. The feeling of the warm glass cup suctioning an area that was so chronically sore from being all misaligned and inflamed was just… I have to say… sublime. When I stood up and moved my leg around, it actually moved freely. It wasn’t like the blind man seeing for the first time, or the deaf guy hearing, but it was significant. And after a frustrating and painful ten-plus months, it seemed momentous. And a HUGE step in the right direction.

Right off the bat, returning the joint to its rightful place goes a long way toward fixing the mess in there. Blood should flow more freely–into, but especially out of, the area. That allows inflammation to disburse and nutrients to get to damaged tissue.  The idea is that after a few treatments (and maybe a few more after that), the joint reestablishes muscle memory and will stay put (helped along by my own muscle strengthening and stretching regimens).

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Hope it has some basis in reality.

I sure didn’t know cupping was a thing, that a whole bunch of celebrities have gotten into it over the last couple of years. That is a bit disappointing to hear. I discovered this when I went online searching for an image to use–because I’m certainly not going to snap a pic while in the middle of a cupping session–and found 1) lots of photos of celebrities with round hickies all over their bodies, and 2) some extremely grotesque photos of creepy, bruised bodies.. apparently the result of cupping gone bad.

So I just don’t know what to think. I’m apparently riding the latest hollywood celebrity alternative woo woo wave, which, as I said, is sort of disallusioning, except that my foray into cupping has represented a huge turning point in the whole sad hip saga. It is the most hopeful thing yet in a string of hopeful things, and may be the thing that saves me from hip replacement surgery.

Here are a couple shots that I found online of the cupping process:



You can Google image cupping to see some of the gross shots.

2 Responses to “In My Cups”

  1. Adele Says:

    Nice article Kari, as always! A misalignment, yes that makes sense! Kind of along the lines I was thinking. Maybe a good old chiropractic treatment might also be helpful….to make sure the lumbar are not out. Everything IS connected, after all — in the body as elsewhere. And try not to despair too much about Hollywood trends 🙂 . I’ve had cupping for 20 years, and it’s been around for thousands. Hollywood is also on the “channeling” bandwagon and I’ve also been doing that for 20 years… along with many others. — Adele

  2. Elliot Margolies Says:


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