Research Studies Evaluating the Effectiveness of Reflexology for Headaches and Pain Conditions

  1. EFFECTS OF TREATMENT WITH STIMULATION OF THE REFLEXZONES OF THE FOOT WITH REGARD TO THE PROPHYLACTIC FLUNARIZIN TREATMENT OF PATIENTS SUFFERING FROM CEPHALAEA HEADACHES
    By A. Lafuente, M. Nouera, C. Puy, A. Molins, F. Titus and F.Sanz. Dr. Annemarie Kesselring, SBK, Institut fur Pflegeforschung, Bern
    This study was devised as a blind random trial to verify whether reflexology is an effective prophylactic treatment for headaches. Thirty two patients, aged 15 - 57 years (mean age 39.7 years), who were sent to the cephalaea unit volunteered to participate in the study. There were 25 women and 7 men who were randomly assigned to two groups. Group A received a glucose capsule placebo and received reflexology treatment twice a week for 2 - 3 months. They received between 12 and 30 treatments each. Group B underwent prophylactic Flunarizin treatment and was given massages of a non-specific zone twice a week for 12 sessions. Patients recorded on a monthly calendar during their treatment: the day that they had a headache, the level of severity on a scale of 1 to 4, and the duration in hours. A first check was conducted when the treatment of both groups was completed, and a second one three months later. Mann-Whitney and Kruskal-Wallis statistical tests showed no difference between the 2 groups regarding recovery and relapse. It was concluded that reflexology was at least as effective as Flunarizin prophylaxis and maybe classed as an alternative non-pharmacological therapeutic technique and is particularly appropriate to patients with contraindications to pharmacological treatment.

  2. HEADACHES AND REFLEXOLOGY TREATMENT
    By National Board of Health Council, Denmark, 1995
    This study aimed to ascertain the effectiveness of reflexology on migraine and tension headaches. Two hundred and twenty patients presenting headaches as their primary problem were treated by 78 reflexologists over a three-month time period. A consultant doctor diagnosed the type of headache before the study began. Patients completed a diary once a month prior to treatment and during the treatment time. Questionnaires were completed by the patient at the beginning and end of the series of treatments, and three months after the end of the series. Qualitative interviews were conducted at the end of the treatments. Results: 16% reported that they were cured, 65% said that reflexology had helped, and, 18% were unchanged. Conclusion: reflexology is able to cure or help both tension and migraine headaches in a significant number of patients.

     

  3. FOOT REFLEX ZONE MASSAGE IN TREATING AGIONEUROTIC HEADACHE(ANH): REPORT OF 26 CASES
    By Qiu Jian, School Hospital of the Wuhan University Hubei, China
    Twenty-six patients, 9 males and 17 females, aged 19 to 43 years, participated. The history of ANH ranged from one hour to 5 months. Results: after one session of foot reflexology - 13 cured (symptom free), 1 symptoms relieved; after two sessions - 6 cured, 1 symptom free; after three sessions - 2 cured, 3 symptoms unchanged. A typical case is presented. It is concluded that foot reflexology is a safe, economic therapy.

     

  4. REFLEXOLOGY AND MIGRAINE HEADACHES
    Unpublished report available from FDZ Research Committee, Denmark
    Of 100 applicants, 23 of the worst cases were selected for the study. These patients had frequent migraine headache attacks, usually for several years, and had been treated with morphine, ketogan and albergin medications. Three patients withdrew from the study, and the remaining 20 participants received 240 foot reflexology treatments, an average of twelve sessions per patient. The results of the study were based on the patient's evaluation of their own condition. Nine persons (45%) no longer had headaches; 6 persons (30%) felt considerable improvement; 2 persons (10%) felt a little better, and 3 persons (15%) felt no improvement.

     

  5. REFLEXOLOGY AND PAIN REDUCTION
    Unpublished Report available through the FDZ Research Committee, Denmark
    This study evaluated the effects of reflexology on shoulder, neck and head pain. Twenty-nine persons, 22 females and 7 males (aged 17 - 71 years) who had suffered from pain 6 months to 30 years (average = 10 years) were selected to participate from forty applicants. Three women withdrew before the end of the study. Each of the remaining 26 participants received 10 foot reflexology treatments. All 26 participants complained of neck pain before treatment. After treatment, 13 participants (50%0 were pain free; 8 participants (30.77%) felt considerable effect; 2 participants (7.69%) felt little effect, and 3 participants (11.54%) felt no effect. Twenty-three of the 26 participants complained of shoulder pain before treatment. After treatment 8 participants (34.78%) were pain free, 10 participants (43.48%) felt considerable effect, 2 participants (8.70%) felt little effect, and 3 participants (13.04%) felt no effect. Twenty three of the 26 participants complained about headaches before treatment. After treatment, 11 participants (47.83%) were pain free, 6 participants (26.09%) felt considerable effect, 2 participants (8.70%) felt little effect, and 4 participants (17.39%) felt no effect from the treatment. Four participants felt pain reduction in other areas of the body, improvement in allergy and asthma symptoms, increased energy and increased well-being. Many (number not reported) participants reduced or eliminated their need for medication.

     

  6. IS CHEST PAIN AFFECTED BY REFLEXOLOGY INTERVENTION?
    By Margaret Rose Berker, Exeter University, UK
    Four patients with chest pain for periods of 18 months to 13 years were treated with weekly 45 minute foot reflexology for eight weeks. Patients recorded in a diary before and after treatment: the number of episodes, the intensity, and, the duration of the pain. All subjects experienced positive results. It was decided to extend the reflexology by 7 weeks to continue the momentum of the improvements. All four patients returned after a period of months for 2 more sessions when some symptoms returned. After nine months, three patients now suffer no chest pain and the fourth had experienced a reduction in pain. The four patients had been prescribed a variety of medications, some of which was stopped or reduced during or after treatment.

     

  7. NEURO-REFLEXOTHERAPY INTERVENTION IN THE TREATMENT OF NON SPECIFIED LOW BACK PAIN
    By F.M.Kovacs, V. Abraira, G. Lopez-Abente and F.Pozo, Spain
    Of 91 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of non-specific back pain, 48 were assigned to a treatment group, and 43 to a control group. The treatment group received neuro-reflexotherapic intervention; the control group underwent a similar procedure in which inappropriate zones were stimulated. Participants underwent clinical evaluation immediately prior to treatment, immediately after treatment and 30 days after treatment was completed. The treatment group showed immediate clinical improvements in pain, muscular contracture and mobility. This was statistically significant (p<0.0001). These patients were able to discontinue pharmacological treatment and remain symptom free during the study period. It was concluded that neuro-reflexotherapic intervention is an effective method for treating non-specific low back pain.

     

  8. TREATMENT OF ACUTE LUMBAR SPRAIN WITH MASSAGE OF THE REFLEX ZONES: A REPORT OF TWENTY CASES
    By Xiao Zhengke, Hospital of Beijing College of Languages.
    Twenty patients 35 - 55 years old, who suffered from acute lumbar sprain were treated with massage of the foot reflex zones. Duration of the problem was 2 hours in 18 cases, 2 days in one case and 15 days in one case. Five patients were cured (pain was eliminated, function restored to normal, no discomfort) after one treatment, 10 patients were cured after 5 to 7 treatments. During the treatment no drugs were used.

     

  9. REFLEX ACTION
    Reported By Kath Harper, LifeWise, Australia, May 1993
    Thirty five female patients were involved in the study. Group 1 was composed of ten patients with long term arthritic pain. Three of the lower back, two of the neck, three of the shoulder and two of the knees/hips. After 10 treatments all 10 patients noticed some relief with 6 patients showing no recurrence of pain over a period of thirty days. Group 2 consisted of twelve patients with diagnosed but unexplained internal pain. Six had pain on the right side of the liver, four on the right side, ileocaecal region, and two on the left side, pancreas region. The four cases of ileocaecal pain and three cases of liver pain reported complete cessation of the symptom with no recurrence over 40 days. One case of liver pain reported reduced pain, and two cases reported no change. Of the two cases of pain in the region of the pancreas, one reported no further pain and the other reported reduced symptoms with some pain still present. Group 3 consisted of 13 patients with tension headaches - not migraine. After 40 days, six patients had suffered no headaches or recurrence of neck tension; four reported decreased symptoms, and three reported no change.

  10. THE EFFECT OF REFLEXOLOGY ON THE PAIN, SEVERITY AND FREQUENCY OF THE SYMPTOMS OF FIBROMYALGIA 
    By Johan Harlaar, The International School of Reflexology and Meridian Therapy, Johannesburg, South Africa.2007
    This study included 17 cases {4 males and 13 females, aged between 38 and 69 } diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. The period they had suffered from Fibromyalgia ranged from 1.5 years to 48 years. Each patient received an average of 10 treatments twice a week and had to document their pain levels and how strong certain conditions were experienced. Every patient received a reflexology treatment and did a relaxation exercise afterwards which consisted of a set of yoga breaths for about 10 minutes. In most cases the pain levels went down or stabilized and a lot of the secondary conditions went down or disappeared. It was also observed that the manner in which each patient reacted to reflexology was very individual. Some had spectacular results within 4 to 5 treatments where others only showed a little improvement in the levels of pain after 10 treatments. Out of the 17 patients, 15 reported a decrease in the level of pain and an increase in the quality of their daily lives.

    Conclusion: Reflexology can have an effect on the pain, severity and frequency of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.