Reflexology for back pain is a form of complementary therapy offered throughout the world, but is especially popular in Asia. Reflexology most commonly involves the application of oils or creams and subsequent deep massage of the feet, hands and ears. While many people swear by the practice, there is little evidence to support reflexology offered by the traditional medical system, which should not surprise anyone. Treatment generally consists of a short consultation about what ails the patient, followed by a hands-on intensive massage of the regions thought to bring about relief. Most sessions last from 15 to 60 minutes, but some may last longer or shorter. The average patient will return for treatment quite often, with weekly sessions being the most common in modern practice.
This discussion focuses on the professional use of reflexology to treat back pain symptoms.
Reflexology is also known as zone therapy and is an ancient treatment used in China dating back over 5000 years. Since then, it has spread like wildfire all across the globe, but is still most commonly found in Asia, where it is used to treat virtually every problematic health issue, mental and physical.
The philosophy of reflexology states that particular spots on the feet, hands and ears correspond to zones of the body including internal organs, and general anatomical regions. By stimulating these particular points on the hands, feet or ears, beneficial effects can be provided to the corresponding zones in the body.
This healing art is much concerned with qi/chi energy, as are many of its similar practices, including acupuncture, acupressure and Traditional Chinese Medicine. In fact, the zone theory of qi predates the more accepted and modern meridian theory utilized in these healing arts.
Reflexology has absolutely no basis in modern medicine and has never been conclusively proven to provide any tangible health benefits. That being said, there are literally untold millions who swear by the practice and would not want to live without it.
Reflexologists are not normally considered healthcare providers and many areas of the world classify them as spa therapists. However, many are very knowledgeable about the human anatomy and the signs of illness and injury throughout. Some reflexologists also use electrotherapy, hydrotherapy, acupuncture or acupressure in addition to their more traditional massage for an overall health treatment.
The goal of reflexology is to target painful areas of the body and provide either simple pain relief or some form of organic cure through treatment. This philosophy is virtually identical to acupuncture, in that the care provider utilizes the body’s own natural energy system to provide therapeutic results.
I have experienced reflexology and was never happy with the therapy. I found the treatment to be quite painful and unpleasant. I also never saw any health benefit from the practice. However, although I do not subscribe to zone theory, I do understand and see some potential for treating qi energy in the body. I do believe that the therapy definitely relaxes some patients and may provide a powerful placebo reaction, particularly when offered by a convincing and knowledgeable care provider. Remember, regardless of the actual efficacy of any treatment, the patient will likely see a benefit if they believe in the effectiveness of the therapy.
I do not recommend that back pain patients are likely to realize a cure, or even marked relief, from the treatment, but it is certainly possible given the right circumstances. Some patients swear by reflexology for all their ills.
The bottom line? Well, if you believe in reflexology or simply want to give it a try, then it might work for you. If not, I suggest moving right along, since you will probably wind up with nothing except a diminished bank account and some really sore feet. Remember also that reflexologists are not all equal in their training or techniques. Some are merely amateur masseuses without any formalized training, while the best are the equivalent of doctors in their knowledge and practical applications. A good rule of thumb states that you usually get what you pay for, so keep this in mind as you see qualified reflexology care.