Reflexology, a bodywork practice where energy (qi) is shifted and balance made available, might benefit individuals experiencing chronic pain. Typically offered as a complementary therapy to previously established treatment methods and therapies, reflexology finds its roots in Eastern medicine and philosophy.
When qi, your life force energy, becomes stagnant, stuck, blocked, or off-balance, it will show itself as a physical illness or an emotional or mental imbalance. Sometimes, it arises as a blend of the three.
A reflexologist can determine how your physical body connects to your internal, emotional, and energetic state of being.
When it comes to chronic pain, an abundance of patients turns to complementary therapies, typically found in the form of Eastern medicine, as they offer added healing beyond conventional methods.
Chronic pain can include the following related symptoms which arise from conventional medications or comorbid diagnoses:
- A noticeable sensation of discomfort or immense pain
- Exhausted energy levels
- Inability to complete typical routine tasks
- Sensitivity in the nervous system
- Heightened stress levels
- Headaches or migraines
Reflexology has been shown to benefit those experiencing anxiety, depression, fatigue, stress, and imbalanced nervous systems. As such, it would make sense that it can offer healing and pain relief to those with chronic pain.
Which patients benefit from reflexology?
So long as you are cleared to receive the treatment and have provided truthful and thorough information for your doctor and/or a reflexologist, you are ready to receive the treatment.
In some cases, reflexology might not be recommended. Or, you might not see benefits despite hearing about the tales of pain relief and immense relaxation. All pain is different, and all patients experience pain differently. So, your pain might be entirely different from someone else who saw reflexology’s benefits more potently.
In some ways, reflexology might benefit those with migraines and headaches brought on by chronic pain more so than those experiencing achy bones or sore joints. It depends entirely on the person, though, as we all have different pain thresholds, and our perspectives of pain and wellness differ significantly.
How does reflexology work?
Following along the reflex points and based upon the information shared between reflexologist and client, a reflexologist will trace, pull, or massage specific points or body parts – typically, only the hands, feet, and ears. In doing so, healing is induced throughout the entire body, not only the physical but the energetic and emotional body as well.
Reflexology seems to connect directly to the nervous systems. The feet might have as many as seven thousand nerve endings alone, which then connect to the central nervous system after being stimulated during a reflexology session.
By rewiring neural pathways, shifting the energy or qi, a reflexologist can change the way you perceive or feel pain.
Reflexology might benefit those individuals experiencing chronic low back pain, one of the most common complaints in the realm of chronic pain. A study from the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, with the involvement of their nurses and a research team, found that reflexology stands as a viable and reliable means of interrupting the experience of chronic low back pain.
Plus, reflexology, they found, can easily be taught to be people. So, you can share the practice with patients and let them ‘take it home’ with them.
Another study, from 2018 and ed by C. Kern, gathered 311 participants. They found that the research on reflexology remains limited, but it is an “inexpensive, reliable, teachable, and simple non-invasive treatment.” (The Benefits of Reflexology for the Chronic Pain Patient in a Military Pain Clinic.) So, as more studies and information rise to the surface, reflexology might only continue to grow in its validity and popularity. Down the road, it might be as common as acupuncture.
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