Quality clinical studies can cost a lot of money, there aren’t any large corporate interests to fund such clinical studies so research is limited and sample sizes tend to be small.
It is always interesting to read of clinical studies into reflexology and it can give those new to reflexology some assurance. I know before I started having regular reflexology if someone had suggested that someone working on my feet would have any impact on for example back pain that I would think them a little bit odd!
Reflexology and sleep This study examines the effectiveness of using foot reflexology to improve sleep quality in postpartum women. It found that intervention involving foot reflexology significantly improved the quality of sleep.
Reflexology – a general overview This study reviewed 168 research studies and found that reflexology can have an impact on specific organs (for example kidneys), can be associated with improvement of symptoms, can create a relaxation effect and can aid pain reduction.
They are cautious in saying (because the clinical research was weak) that reflexology may have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes and may exert a beneficial effect on lowering blood pressure and incontinence and may be effective for tingling in MS.
Reflexology and back pain Research into the effect of reflexology on chronic lower backpain found that there was a significantly higher reduction in pain intensity scores in the reflexology group after the intervention as compared with the non-specific massage group.
Painful periods and reflexology – Tony Porter and Lindsay McMillan FRCOG
‘In 1994 I took a number of young women who all suffered refractory Dysmenorrhoea and complained of pain at the time of their periods. Many of these women would be hospitalised due to their extreme discomfort. All these patients had conventional treatment, such as combined oral contraceptives, non–steroidal anti–inflammatories and analgesia at the time of their periods with little or no effect on their pain.
At that time there was a theory that if one transacted the nerve fibres that run on the medial aspect of both Uterosacral ligaments this would cure the pain experienced at the time of their periods, but I had serious doubts about this.
Knowing Tony Porter could often alleviate dysmenorrhoea with reflexology, we set up a pilot trial which involved me choosing the patients and randomly selecting them for either surgery, or a course of reflexology.
By the end of 10 months, when we began to correlate the figures, it became obvious that Tony’s success in alleviating severe dysmenorrhoea in these women was in the region of 85 – 90%, whereas in surgical treatment it was less than half that figure.
It was at this point that I made the difficult decision that I could not submit women for a potentially dangerous procedure under general anaesthesia when it seemed the results were so unfavourable compared to reflexology.
‘In the management of chronic pelvic pain, reflexology is an invaluable and often essential tool. The evidence would suggest that for the treatment of common menstrual pain, reflexology is the best non-invasive, non-drug treatment’.
Lindsay McMillan FRCOG