Reflexology could be effective as a form of pain relief for conditions such as osteoarthritis, backache and cancers, according to a new study by British researchers.
Reflexology involves pressure points on the foot
The team from the University of Portsmouth wanted to test whether reflexology could be used as a treatment for acute pain as a complement to conventional drug therapy.
Complementary and alternative therapies have been criticised in the past for not being tested under properly controlled conditions.
To combat this, the researchers used a placebo alongside reflexology to see whether the treatment would be more effective than no pain relief at all.
In the study, 15 participants were asked to submerge their hand in ice water over a course of two sessions.
In one of the sessions they were given reflexology on their feet before they submerged their hand. In the other session they believed they were receiving pain relief from a TENS machine, but the machine was not turned on.
Writing in the Journal of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practise, they found that the participants felt about 40 per cent less pain and were able to stand the pain for around 45 per cent longer when reflexology was applied prior to the session.
Dr Carol Samuel, who carried out the experimental procedures as part of her PhD, 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.”
Reflexology is the application of appropriate pressure to specific points and areas on the feet, hands, or ears, and is a form of complementary therapy.
Some private health insurance plans will cover complementary therapies, although you will need to check the policy documents to see whether reflexology is included on the list of covered treatments.
Cash plans may also help with the costs of complementary therapy.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013