Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Reflexology and Pain Reduction

Pain reduction is a significant result of reflexology work. More than 40 studies show positive out-comes for reflexology work ranging from “significant difference in” pain to “reduction in” pain.
Of note is the broad range of individuals whose pain is impacted by reflexology work. Included are individuals of all ages and health states: birthing mothers, menstruating women, phantom limb pain sufferers, lower back pain sufferers, kidney stone patients, senior citizens and individuals with pain resulting from surgery. Such a range speaks of impact on an underlying mechanism at work.
The use of reflexology to reduce pain is documented by both testimonials and research. One review of 177 reflexology studies showed that 35 or 21% tested the efficacy of reflexology for pain reduction. 
How this takes place is a matter of conjecture. Popular theories include pain reduction due to: (1) endorphin release prompted by reflexology work, (2) the gate control theory (the signal created by reflexology work replaces the pain signal at the “gate,” the spinal cord) and neuromatrix theory of pain, an expansion of the gate control theory that proposes that pain is a multidimensional experience involving three major psychological dimensions: sensory-discriminative, motivational-affective, and cognitive-evaluative.
See Evidence-Based Reflexology Research for Health Professionals and Researchers by Barbara and Kevin Kunz.

Reflexology reduces pain following surgery as found in 8 studies. Among post-operative study results, it was noted in one study: “there was a notable difference in pain intensity between the intervention and other groups after reflexology therapy. In addition, methadone consumption was significantly lower in the reflexology group than in the other two groups (p ≤ 0.001).” with a conclusion: “Reflexology is effective for reducing pain after appendectomy surgery.”

Among benefits of reflexology use to improve care in the obstetric ward is creating a better experience for expectant and new mothers. Included are avoiding use of and potential side effects of pain killing medication during labor as well as for primary inertia during delivery and saving money, helping reduce pain and, thus, encouraging mothers concerned about pain to use vaginal birth rather than cesarean section.
See Medical Applications of Reflexology: Findings in Research about Post-operative Care, Maternity Care and Cancer Care.
Eleven studies show use of reflexology helps reduce pain during cancer care:
• “...positive immediate effect for patients with metastatic cancer who report pain” (22)
• “...significant and immediate effect on the patients’ perceptions of pain;” (3)
• “...immediate decrease in pain intensity and anxiety...” (20)
• “...effective for reducing cancer pain” (7)
• “There was a statistically significant decrease in anxiety and pain in the experimental group compared to the control group over 5 different times. (6)
• “When applied skillfully, a reflexology massage is pleasantly relaxing and able to diminish painful sensations in the body.” (2)
• “One of three pain measures showed that patients with breast cancer experienced a significant decrease in pain.” (21)
• “... positive immediate effect for patients with metastatic cancer who report pain, although there was no statistically significant effect at 3 hours after intervention or at 24 hours after intervention.” This research established a three hour window of impact, with an effective “dose” to be administered every 3 hours. (23) 
• “Patients with breast cancer also showed a significant decrease in pain.” (11)
• “The committee pleased to find that the patients who received reflexology reported less pain, nausea, stress, anxiety, and depression; they also expressed increased feelings of well-being and peacefulness.” (15)
• “...less pain (P <.05) and anxiety (P <.05) over time were reported by the intervention group compared with the control group. In addition, patients in the intervention group received significantly less opioid analgesics than the control group (P <.05).” (24) 
See Medical Applications of Reflexology: Findings in Research about Cancer Care

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