What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is an alternative treatment therapy which deals with the principle that there are reflex areas in the feet and hands which correspond to all of the glands, organs and parts of the body. Stimulating these reflexes properly can, according to practitioners help many health problems in a natural way, a type of preventative maintenance.
The treatment consists of using different massage and pressure techniques to relax and loosen muscles in the feet and hands. Treatment is done with the patient lying down on a treatment bed with foot massage the main focus and hand massage after that. According to the British Reflexology Association, “In the feet, there are reflex areas corresponding to all the parts of the body and these areas are arranged in such a way as to form a map of the body in the feet with the right foot corresponding to the right side of the body and the left foot corresponding to the left side of the body. By having the whole body represented in the feet, the method offers a means of treating the whole body and of treating the body as a whole. This latter point is an important factor of a natural therapy and allows not only symptoms to be treated but also the causes of symptoms.”(1)
Brief Background of Reflexology
Modern Reflexology is based on the work of two American physicians, Dr. William Fitzgerald and Dr. Joe Shelby Riley of the 1920's and on that of physiotherapist Eunice D. Ingham who developed Fitzgerald and Riley's knowledge into a usable therapy, calling it Foot Reflexology and took it to the public in the late 1930's through the early 70's.(2)
Does Reflexology Work for Lymphedema?
In the website Reflexology Presents, there is a section on forty-five clinical studies done on this treatment concept. However, none of them involve lymphedema. I have also not been able to locate any controlled studies anywhere, so there is nothing that conclusively demonstrates this is beneficial to lymphedema patients as far as their lymphedema is concerned.
There is a slight bit of evidence that reflexology may be useful in pain management,and in some limited types of dementia, but even then the below studies indicate more research is needed.
I was unable to find a single article that supports the efficacy of using Reflexology in the treatment of lymphedema.
As of this update of Jan. 15, 2012, there are no independent clinical studies or evidence based medical news to substantiate the claim that reflexology is beneficial for lymphedema. Thus, this continues to be a supposed tretment method that I can simply not support or encourage anyone to have. Pat
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