Reflexology in the management of low back pain: a pilot randomised controlled trial.
Quinn F1, Hughes CM, Baxter GD.
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The current study was designed as a pilot study for a randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of reflexology in the management of low back pain (LBP).


Participants suffering non-specific LBP were recruited and randomised into either a reflexology or a sham group. Patients and outcome assessor were blinded to group allocation. Each patient received either a 40 min reflexology treatment or sham treatment (according to group allocation) once per week for six consecutive weeks. The primary outcome measure was pain (visual analogue scale), secondary outcome measures were the McGill pain questionnaire, Roland-Morris disability questionnaire, and SF-36 health survey. Outcome measures were performed at baseline, week 6, week 12 and week 18.


VAS scores for pain reduced in the treatment group by a median value of 2.5 cm, with minimal change in the sham group (0.2 cm). Secondary outcome measures produced an improvement in both groups (McGill pain questionnaire: 18 points in the reflexology group and 11.5 points in the sham group). Results indicate that reflexology may have a positive effect on LBP.


Reflexology appears to offer promise as a treatment in the management of LBP; however, an adequately powered trial is required before any more definitive pronouncements are possible.

Back pain
Trial: A study conducted at the Beijing College of Languages investigated the effect of reflexology treatments on acute lower back pain. 20 patients between the ages of 35 and 55 all of whom were teachers or office workers, and suffering from lower back pain participated in the study.
The patients were treated for a maximum of 10 treatments and the results analysed.
Result: All of the patients reported that the treatment had effectively eliminated their pain; 10 patients obtained complete relief after 3-4 treatments, 5 after 5 treatments and further 5 after 5-7 treatments. No analgesics or other medications were used throughout the course of treatments.
Research: Xiao Zhenge, Hospital of Beijing College of Languages. Reflexology Research Reports 2nd Edn. Compiled by K Walker, Association of Reflexologists