Research: HUGHES and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 187

Abstract

HUGHES and COLLEAGUES, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland. cm.hughes@ulster.ac.uk investigated the effectiveness of reflexology on pain in and MS population.

Background

Multiple sclerosis (MS) results in pain and other symptoms which may be modified by conventional treatment, however, MS is still not curable. Several studies have reported positive effects of reflexology in the treatment of pain, however, no randomised controlled clinical trials for the treatment of pain have been conducted within this population. The objective of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of reflexology on pain in and MS population.

Methodology

We randomly allocated 73 participants to receive either precision or sham reflexology weekly for 10 weeks. Outcome measures were taken pre-and post-treatment with follow-up at 6 and 12 weeks by a researcher blinded to group allocation. The primary outcome measure recorded pain using a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS).

Results

A significant (p < 0.0001) and clinically important decrease in pain intensity was observed in both groups compared with baseline. Median VAS scores were reduced by 50% following treatment, and maintained for up to 12 weeks. Significant decreases were also observed for fatigue, depression, disability, spasm and quality of life.

Conclusion

In conclusion, precision reflexology was not superior to sham, however, both treatments offer clinically significant improvements for MS symptoms via a possible placebo effect or stimulation of reflex points in the feet using non-specific massage.

References

Hughes CM, Smyth S and Lowe-Strong AS. Reflexology for the treatment of pain in people with multiple sclerosis: a double-blind randomised sham-controlled clinical trial. Multiple Sclerosis. 15(11): 1329-38. Nov 2009.

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