Add as bookmark

Problems Affecting Muscles and Joints

by Mary Martin(more info)

listed in reflexology, originally published in issue 92 - September 2003

Rotator Cuff Syndrome – Charlotte

The rotator cuff is made up of a ring of muscles and ligaments that joins the head of the humerus to the shoulder joint. These stabilize the shoulder and allow a range of movements to the arm. This syndrome is caused through inflammation or damage to these muscles or ligaments. It can result in a frozen shoulder and long-term problems.

Charlotte was carrying a heavy bag on her left shoulder and weighty shopping draped over the same arm – a sure recipe for disaster! Initially her shoulder felt strained – quickly followed by excruciating pain. Her doctor diagnosed rotator cuff syndrome and prescribed painkillers.

Three days later I treated Charlotte who was still in terrible pain. She could only extend her left arm for nine inches sideways from her body.

Within a few hours of treatment, the pain had eased. Next day she had full movement of her arm, despite a dull ache in the upper arm when raised. Following treatment a week later she has had no further problems.

How Reflexology Works

Applying pressure to reflex points makes it possible to interact with the interconnected systems of the body at an energetic level and restore homeostatic function. Muscles relax, enabling blood flow to be re-established. Waste products that cause pain are eliminated, allowing oxygenated blood and nutrients to penetrate the tissues – relieving pain and stiffness. It optimizes the body's natural healing ability.

Early treatment provided a speedy recovery for Charlotte. Old, unresolved injuries may be alleviated but normally take longer, especially when aggravated by occupational stresses.


This is a metabolic disorder whereby excess uric acid in the blood gets deposited in joints. This build-up is either due to overproduction or to kidney problems and inadequate excretion. Some blood disorders and particular prescribed drugs are also triggers. There is a pre-disposition to gout in some families. Men are more prone to it than women.

Over-consumption of foods rich in chemicals called purines (that produce uric acid) may also trigger attacks. These include offal, game, fish roes, sardines, herring and lobster. Excessive amounts of alcohol decrease the kidneys' ability to excrete uric acid. In acute attacks the big toe is normally affected. There is excruciating pain – the toe joint becomes red, hot and swollen.

The skin may appear shiny, red or purple. There can be feverishness. Drugs are usually prescribed to counteract an attack and also to prevent further attacks.

Repeated attacks may cause pain, swelling and stiffness in the fingers, wrists, knees or feet. Left untreated, it can lead to permanent damage. Uric acid crystals may be deposited in the kidneys, causing kidney stones. Chalky deposits called tophi may appear under the skin around joints and in the cartilage of the ears.


Sixty-two year old Anna's right kidney was removed at aged 22 because of TB. Her bladder was also damaged during an operation. This resulted in a build-up of uric acid levels causing gout in her hands and feet with referred pain in her legs. This was despite taking the drug allopurinol for 'preventing' gout. She also took medication for hypertension and elevated cholesterol levels.

Due to chronic pain she slept badly and needed to pay seven or eight nightly visits to the bathroom. Being overweight and standing for long periods did not help her condition.

Within three treatments her pain lessened considerably, affording her a good night's sleep. By the fourth treatment her nightly visits to the bathroom had reduced to three. Her kidney and bladder function improved, resulting in reduced uric acid levels. Free from pain, Anna's sleep pattern improved – boosting her general health. She said that she felt better than she had felt for years. Monthly treatments maintain this level of improvement.


Michael, aged 47, suffered from gout in his hands, feet and knees for almost four years. This involved hereditary factors, as both parents had chronic gout. He took allopurinol.

Like his parents, Michael had high cholesterol levels. He had digestive problems, backache and slept badly. Due to an accident five years previously, he experienced frequent headaches – aggravated by working on a computer for long periods.

By his fourth weekly treatment he was free from pain in his hands and feet although his right knee – the worst affected – was still painful.

Within two months, all his pain had disappeared – unless he ate seafood. This was his favourite food and triggered attacks from time to time.

He now eats it occasionally without any ill effects. Blood tests show a substantial reduction in uric acid levels.

Furthermore, his backache improved within two treatments. He sleeps well and rarely gets a headache. Michael's digestive system is much improved and he is more energized. Blood tests show a substantial reduction in cholesterol levels. Regular treatment maintains this level of improvement.


A great advantage of reflexology is that it works indirectly on areas of pain. It does not normally conflict with orthodox treatment, but aims to bring functional improvement on all levels. Most people's health and well-being improves.

Life itself encourages an accumulation of muscular tension. Injuries such as Charlotte's appear to happen in an instant but are invariably due to years of misuse of the body. The straw that broke the camel's back!

In the long-term, preventive healthcare is preferable to suppression of symptoms through drugs. Many people recognize this but do nothing about it – yet creating a healthier lifestyle is such a liberating and empowering experience.


  1. No Article Comments available

Post Your Comments:

About Mary Martin

A qualified teacher, Mary Martin established her School of Reflexology in 1987. She founded the Association of Reflexologists in 1984 and is an Honorary Life Member. Previously she practised as a Gerson therapist. Mary belongs to a network of therapists attached to the cancer centre at Mount Vernon Hospital. She has had a busy practice in Ruislip since 1983. She may be contacted on Tel: 01895 635621;

top of the page