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Exploratory study on the efficacy of reflexology for pain threshold and pain tolerance

ReflexologyDr Carol Samuel is a trained reflexologist who carried out the experiment as part of her PhD studies. She said it was the first time this therapy had been scientifically tested as a treatment for acute pain.

Dr Samuel concluded the results suggested that reflexology could be used to complement conventional drug therapy in the treatment of conditions associated with pain such as osteoarthritis, backache and cancers.

The experiment involved 15 subjects who attended two sessions, in which they were asked to submerge their hand in ice slurry.

In one of the sessions they were given foot reflexology before they submerged their hand, and in the second session they believed they were receiving pain relief from a Tens machine, which was not actually switched on.

The researchers found that when the participants received reflexology prior to the session they were able to keep their hand in the ice water for longer before they felt pain, and that they could also tolerate the pain for a longer period of time. The study found that people felt about 40 per cent less pain, and were able to stand pain for about 45 per cent longer. Statistical analysis showed the compared to control data, reflexology increased acute pain threshold (F(1,14) = 4.5958, p < 0.05) and tolerance (F(1,14) = 5.1095, p < 0.05).

Dr Samuel said: "As we predicted, reflexology decreased pain sensations.

"It is likely that reflexology works in a similar manner to acupuncture by causing the brain to release chemicals that lessen pain signals."

Dr Ivor Ebenezer, co-author of the study, said: "We are pleased with these results. Although this is a small study, we hope it will be the basis for future research into the use of reflexology."

Dr Ebenezer said: "Complementary and alternative therapies come in for a lot of criticism, and many have never been properly tested scientifically.

"One of the common criticisms by the scientific community is that these therapies are often not tested under properly controlled conditions.

"When a new drug is tested its effects are compared with a sugar pill.

"If the drug produces a similar response to the sugar pill, then it is likely that the drug's effect on the medical condition is due to a placebo effect.

"In order to avoid such criticism in this study, we compared the effects of reflexology to a sham Tens control that the participants believed produced pain relief.

"This is the equivalent of a sugar pill in drug trials."

Reflexology is a complementary medical approach, which works alongside orthodox medicine, in which pressure may be applied to any body area but is commonly used on either the feet or hands.  More reserach is needed with larger subject groups but this study represents an exciting starting point in studying the effects of reflexology on pain.

Posted on April 16, 2013 and filed under pain, reflexology.

Reflexology Research

As a reflexologists with a nursing background it is always brilliant to read new research studies examining reflexology.  I believe it is vital that complementary therapists do not make claims about the benefits of their treatments that can not be supported by research evidence.  It can be difficult to find robust studies so when new reflexology research is published it is greeted eagerly by therapists who can then share the results with their clients.

In The International Therapist Journal  there is a study on the use of reflexology for constipation.  Constipation is a common problem in the U.K. with up to 20% of the population being affected at some time.  It can be a painful and distressing condition with many of the traditional medical treatments having associated adverse effects. The clients in the study had no underlying medical cause for their constipation ( idiopathic constipation ). 

After a course of reflexology treatments over six weeks the study found 94% of the participants reported an improvement in their condition. This does suggest that reflexology can potentially help people with idiopathic constipation.  This reflexology research does have some limitations and further studies are needed before the results can be certain but it is definitely a promising development for reflexology research and reflexology for clients struggling with the discomfort of constipation.

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Reflexology Kidderminster. Please contact 0753 1121199

 

Reflexology Research

Reflexology is a popular therapy not only with clients but also in complimentary therapy research.  This blog aims to regularly share reflexology research with you to enable you to learn more about the therapy and see the results attained in the studies.  There will be studies related to many issues including maternity, menstruation, surgery, mobility and pain relief.

I am a reflexologist working in Kidderminster and also providing mobile treatments in the Stourbridge, west Midlands and Worcester areas.  I qualified as an Adult General Nurse and moved on to train in Reflexology and a number of other therapies including massage and aromatherapy.

I aim to present the reflexology research to you in brief terms to enable you to read it when you have a few moments to spare, rather than overloading the blog with too many long detailed reports.  If you ever want more information I will include links to the original pieces where possible.

I hope you find this blog useful and enjoy the insights into reflexology.

Reflexology home page

Posted on January 19, 2013 and filed under reflexology.