Posts tagged #research

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.

Reflexology research: fatigue and insomnia

Many people find reflexology to be extremely relaxing and calming. Research into the effects of reflexology on fatigue and insomnia have reported positive results.

A brief feasibility study in 2009 concluded that both reflexology and acupuncture produced a clinically relevant improvement in sleep quality. This benefit was reported after only six treatments over a three week period. ( Acupunct Med 2009;27:163-168 doi:10.1136/aim.2009.000760 Acupuncture and reflexology for insomnia: a feasibility study). The authors concluded that the improvement was significant enough to warrant further research.

A study published in 2005 explored the effects of reflexology on fatigue and insomnia in patients suffering from coal workers' pneumoconiosis. Foot reflexology was performed for one hour twice a week for five weeks in the experimental group, but none in the control group. Statistical analysis tools were used to evaluate the results. These showed a decrease in scores for insomnia and fatigue in the reflexology group. After the intervention there was a significant difference of fatigue and insomnia between the two groups. (Lee YM, Sohng KY Department of Nursing,  Kangwon-Do, Korea. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe chi [2005, 35(7):1221-1228])

ON the NICE evidence database an analysis of research into reflexoogy a sleep is available. A systematic review and analysis of the research available were conducted. Electronic database and manual searches were conducted on all published studies reporting the effects of foot reflexology on fatigue and sleep. Forty four studies were eligible including 15 studies associated with fatigue, 18 with sleep, and 11 with pain. The effects of foot reflexology were analyzed using statistical tools. This analysis of research indicated that foot reflexology is a useful intervention to relieve fatigue and to promote sleep. (J Korean Acad Nurs. 2011 Dec;41(6):821-833. English. Effects of Foot Reflexology on Fatigue, Sleep and Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.)

A further analysis of data also reached similar conclusions. They analysed 40 research studies. this analysis found that using complimentary therapy including reflexology had a statistically significantly positive effect on insomnia. ( Acupressure, reflexology, and auricular acupressure for insomnia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials Yeung WF et al 2012)

All the reports do concluded that as many of the studies are small more extensive research is required but current research does suggest that reflexology has positive effects for individuals experiencing fatigue and insomnia. This supports the experience I have with clients who often report improved sleep and better energy levels.




Posted on October 9, 2013 and filed under pain, insomnia.

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.



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.