Reflexology and Pain Management – Part 3 21 Jul 2019
In previous posts in this series I have discussed the nature of pain, and how is evidence for the reflexology can be used for acute pain. In this article I want to discuss reflexology and chronic pain, as back pain is the most common chronic pain and it effects 8 out of 10 people in their lifetime, I will focus on studies that have looked at chronic lower back pain.
An initial pilot study was carried out entitle Reflexology in the management of low back pain: a pilot randomised controlled trial by F Quinn, CM Hughes and GD Baxter. the results of which was published (see Complement Ther Med. 2008 Feb;16(1):3-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2007.05.001. Epub 2007 Jun 27.) Participants suffering from non-specific lower back pain were recurited and randomly assigned to a reflexology or sham group. Each patient received either a 40 minute reflexology treatment or a sham treatment according to which group they were in once per week for 6 consecutive weeks. The key measure of success was the measurement of pain on the visual analogue scale supplemented by the McGill pain questionnaire, Roland-Morris disability questionnaire, and SF-36 health survey. Outcome measures were performed at baseline, week 6, week 12 and week 18. The results incidicated that reflexology may have a positive effect on Lower Back Pain.
This initial trail was followed up by a more comprehensive study of times were nurses were the patients, nursing is in the top ten professions for high incidence of lower back pain. Again this study was a double bind trial, and the same measurements of pain were used as in the trail. The study recruited 50 male and 50 female nurses with chronic lower back pain to take part in the trail. 40 minute sessions of reflexology or sham treatements were performed three times a week for two weeks. The study concluded Reflexology can be effective in reducing the severity of chronic back pain, i.e. it is able to reduce pain from moderate to mild. (see The Irainian Journal of Nursing Times (reference Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2012 Mar-Apr; 17(3): 239–243.), focused on back pain in nurses)
In conclusion it is clear that while the number and size of the studies are small there is a clear trend which demonstrates the effectiveness of Reflexology in helping to reduce pain levels especially in cases of lower back pain. Remember I offer a 15 minute taster Reflexology session for anyone who would like to try reflexology.