Posts tagged #pain control

Pain management and Reflexology

Reflexology research into pain management.

Chronic or acute pain is debilitating and depressing. At Breathe Holistic Therapy in Kidderminster we see many clients who are experiencing pain. Traditional medicine still struggles to treat pain effectively for many people. There is a growing evidence base for the use of reflexology and other complementary treatments such as hypnotherapy and mindfulness. As more people start to take control of their health care it is vital that those experiencing pain are aware of the research to enable them to make informed choices about their treatment.

It is not fully understood how reflexology helps to manage pain but current studies suggest it is related to the release of our own natural pain killers such as endogenous opioids. It is well established that the stress response is influential on pain and by releasing these influential hormones this can potentially be counteracted.

Pain affects many millions of people across the world and has serious implications on their quality of life. It can also have negative physical impacts on aspects such as sleep, immune system and digestive responses. Finding ways to manage pain that are noninvasive and without complicated side effects could be life changing for many people and their families.

A research study in 2003 (Samuel etal 2003) found that reflexology decreased pain sensation and increased pain tolerance by up to 40%.  Research into patients with cancer pain report that foot reflexology had an immediate positive effect on pain (Stephenson etal 2003). The same positive results were found when partners were trained to deliver a 30 minute reflexology treatment. Following the initial partner-delivered foot reflexology, patients experienced a significant decrease in pain intensity and anxiety. This emphasises another aspect of reflexlology and many other therapies. They can usually be delivered anywhere the client needs them and by relatives after appropriate training. This means the pain relief can be available exactly when it is needed without waiting for treatments.

Back pain is a common form of pain that causes many lost days at work and prevents many people from enjoying some aspects of life. It can be disabling and cause low mood and fatigue.  Nurses with lower back pain were given six 40 minute reflexology sessions.  The nurses showed a significant reduction in reported pain after reflexology compared to the control group (Eghbali etal 2012). A study in 2007 reflects these results. Subjects receive weekly reflexology for six weeks and they too showed reduced pain scores ( Quinn 2007).

Taking an active role in their choices of pain management can begin to help people feel more in control of their bodies. A sense of hopelessness can develop when pain becomes chronic and making decisions regarding management can instill a sense of hope and power which itself helps pain management.

Many of the research studies are small and larger experiments are needed before the use of reflexology in pain management is fully understood. The evidence is positive enough for reflexology to be a useful choice when looking at pain management strategies.

For more information please contact me :  e-mail me or call 07531 12199

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Reflexology and phantom limb pain.

Phantom limb is the term for abnormal sensations in a previously amputated limb. These may be painful or non painful. Phantom limb pain is often considered to be a form of nerve pain.

The "phantom" sensations are usually located in the end sections of the missing limb. Pain and tingling may be felt in the fingers and hand, and in the toes and the feet. People may feel a mixture of sensations from the amputated limb. The limb may feel completely intact despite its absence. Non painful sensations may include changes in temperature, itching, tingling, shock-like sensations, or perceived motion of the phantom limb. Painful sensations can include burning, throbbing, or stabbing in nature. Touching the remaining stump may elicit sensations from the phantom.

The pain after amputation usually occurs within days or weeks, although it may be delayed for months or years. Pain can last for years, and tends to be intermittent. Pain may last up to 10–14 hours a day and can vary in severity from mild to debilitating.  This condition can be very distressing for the sufferer and as the limb is no longer in place ways to soothe the pain may feel limited. A holistic approach to managing this condition is essential as it has both physical and emotional effects.

A pilot study involving ten patients was undertaken to discover if reflexology could be helpful in reducing the intensity of phantom limb pain.  The objectives were to explore the possibility of reflexology, both hand and foot,  being used as a non-invasive form of pain relief and of empowering patients to maintain any positive results with self-treatment.  The study took place on five phases: phase 1 gave a baseline of pain, whilst phase 3 was a resting phase. Phases 2, 4 and 5 provided the reflexology treatments. 

REFLEXOLOGY INTERVENTIONS: In phase 2, six weekly reflexology treatments were given:  full foot reflexology to the remaining foot and hand reflexology to the hand of the amputated side. In phase 4, six weekly hand reflexology teaching sessions were carried out; patients copied on their own hands what the therapist did.  In phase 5, the patients treated themselves at home for 6 weeks at home, using the reference material.

The results werer encouraging. Over the 30-weeks there was an improvement in the amount and the intensity of the phantom limb pain, with a corresponding improvement in the duration of the pain and the affect on the person's lifestyle. The improvement was maintained when the clients self-treated.

The study indicated that reflexology, teaching and self-treatment were effective in reducing the intensity and duration of phantom limb pain. The follow-up questionnaire revealed that there was a continued improvement in the intensity of phantom limb pain and that the majority still self-treated.

This is only a small study and more research would be necessary before recommending reflexology as a first choice of treatment for phantom limb pain, but the results are encouraging enough to include reflexology on a holistic treatment plan alongside other therapies.

Phantom limb pain is a distressing and disabling condition. If you are concerned please do contact your health care provider for assessment and assistance. Holistic treatments can work well alongside western medicine.

 

Posted on November 25, 2013 and filed under reflexology, pain.