A New Tool for the Pain Management Toolbox: Reflexology

A New Tool for the Pain Management Toolbox: Reflexology

The process of learning what works for pain management for you is an individual one. Some people are fine with the first prescription they get, and others find that the medications that work for them tend to change now and then as something stops working and they have to find another medicine. Non-pharmaceutical treatments are also popular with those who want to minimize the risk of drug interactions.

Reflexology is a type of alternative medicine treatment that is quickly becoming mainstream due to its effectiveness. A small scientific study published in the medical journal “Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice” examined how effective reflexology is for fibromyalgia sufferers. They found that it was an effective treatment for acute pain, and it could work for you. Here are the details on reflexology and fibromyalgia.

Reflexology intersects well with other treatments.

Whether you already take pain medications or not, reflexology may be able to help. It is a complementary form of treatment and involves the practitioner applying pressure to points on the body, commonly on the feet or hands. It is not completely clear how reflexology works. Some reflexologists say that it relies on chakras or meridians of energy in the body, and that applying pressure to one point can relieve pain in another. Others believe it releases pain-blocking chemicals in the brain. Science hasn’t been able to discover the truth yet, and more research is needed on how reflexology works.

The study was in controlled conditions.

Since many alternative and complementary therapies are only tested in non-laboratory conditions that are not tightly controlled, studies about them are often challenged. This study specifically aimed to avoid these challenges by getting fifteen participants to submerge their foot in an ice water bath. One group of participants received reflexology to points on the foot first, while the other group believed they were receiving treatment from a TENS machine that was actually switched off.

The reflexology group performed better.

The two measures the study aimed to take were pain threshold and tolerance. Pain threshold refers to the length of time it took before participants felt pain, and pain tolerance represents the length of time they could last from first putting their foot into the ice water bath to when they could no longer stand it. On both measures, the reflexology group performed significantly better. They had 40% less pain and could withstand the ice bath for 45% longer than those who believed they were receiving TENS treatment. The fibromyalgia pain management implications are clear: it may reduce the amount of pain patients feel and raise your ability to withstand the aches and pains of daily life with fibromyalgia.

One complementary treatment that has received significant positive attention is acupuncture, as it helps relieve pain in a variety of situations. The practitioner who conducted the study believes that it may work similarly to reflexology by triggering the brain to release chemicals to block pain, and the study authors acknowledged the need for future research after this preliminary study.

If reflexology works as well as conventional pain medications for treatment of fibromyalgia, nothing says you can’t use it in conjunction with traditional treatments when you experience pain. Reflexology may allow you to go about your daily life with less pain than before, which is the ultimate goal for many fibromyalgia patients!

Lewis Mann is a fibromyalgia researcher and carer. He enjoys sharing his findings on various health blogs.

2 Responses to A New Tool for the Pain Management Toolbox: Reflexology

  1. Renaldo Hathaway says:

    Acute pain might be mild and last just a moment, or it might be severe and last for weeks or months. In most cases, acute pain does not last longer than six months, and it disappears when the underlying cause of pain has been treated or has healed. Unrelieved acute pain, however, might lead to chronic pain.

  2. Kurt Tanious says:

    A small scientific study on reflexology as a treatment for acute pain finds that it may be as effective as painkillers. The authors suggest reflexology may usefully complement conventional treatments for conditions like osteoarthritis and cancer, which are often associated with pain.

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