Reflexology massage helps relieve pain after appendectomy
10/04/2019 // Evangelyn Rodriguez // Views

Reflexology is a form of massage used as a complementary treatment for various ailments. Historical records suggest that this practice has been around since the time of the ancient Chinese and Egyptians. Reflexology mainly involves the gentle application of pressure to the hands and feet. This is believed to stimulate important points and energy pathways that, in turn, alleviates minor complaints and pain. In a recent study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers from Mashhad University of Medical Sciences in Iran reported that reflexology is an effective complementary treatment after appendectomy. The results of their clinical trial showed that reflexology can reduce post-surgical pain and consumption of analgesics among patients.

Reflexology can provide pain relief to patients post-surgery

Appendicitis is the most common cause of severe gastrointestinal pain. It results from the inflammation of the appendix -- a small pouch that protrudes from the colon -- caused by blockage and subsequent bacterial infection. While appendicitis is commonly associated with pain in the lower right portion of the abdomen, the pain can gradually move or spread as the inflammation worsens. The only treatment for appendicitis is the removal of the appendix via surgery (appendectomy).

Due to the prevalence of appendicitis, appendectomy has become a common emergency surgery. However, while this procedure puts a stop to appendicitis, it doesn't eliminate the pain. Post-appendectomy pain is another problem appendicitis patients encounter that often leads to high analgesics use. And because analgesic drugs cause adverse effects, many patients are now resorting to non-drug treatments and alternative medicine to ease their pain.


The researchers conducted a clinical trial involving 105 patients to determine the efficacy of reflexology in relieving pain. They divided the patients into three groups: the reflexology group, who received pressure on the right foot and on the Shen Men point of the ear; the placebo group, who received pressure on the left foot and left earlobe; and the control group, which received only routine care. All the patients received analgesics as required.

The researchers compared pain intensity and analgesic consumption between the patients before and immediately, one hour, six hours, and 24 hours after the intervention. They evaluated the results at a 95 percent confidence level and analyzed data using SPSS software.

The researchers reported that, at the beginning of the study, the mean pain intensity in the three groups was not significantly different. After reflexology treatment, however, they observed a notable difference in pain intensity between the intervention group and the other groups. The intervention group also had lower methadone consumption than control groups.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that reflexology is effective for reducing pain after appendectomy surgery. (Related: Foot reflexology found more effective than back massage at improving sleep quality in hemodialysis patients.)

The benefits of reflexology

Although literature about the efficacy and applications of reflexology is scarce, this form of massage therapy is still considered generally safe even for people with serious health conditions. Reflexology is based on the same principles as acupuncture and acupressure: by stimulating certain points, blocked energy -- the source of various ailments -- can be released, allowing the body to heal and restoring overall balance.

Reflexology is popular among cancer patients, especially in the U.K. It is used as a complementary therapy to help manage anxiety, sickness, and pain. Some patients also rely on it to lift their mood and improve their sense of well-being. Besides complementing different types of cancer therapy, reflexology is associated with the following benefits:

  • Alleviates back pain
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Clears the sinuses
  • Helps correct hormonal imbalance
  • Improves fertility
  • Reduces stress
  • Relieves arthritis pain
  • Supports digestive health

Reflexology is a safe therapy for people suffering from pain and discomfort caused by a disease or medications. If you decide to try reflexology, make sure your therapist is properly trained and is a certified practitioner so you can get the full benefits of this ancient healing art.

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