Reflexology for Chronic Pain

The benefits of reflexology are the controlled pressure on these points alleviates the source of the discomfort. Reflexology can be effective for promoting good health, preventing illness, along with relieving symptoms of stress, injury, and illness. (Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, 2017)

An image of a woman's hands performing reflexology on a foot to discuss the benefits of reflexology.Reflexologists work from maps of predefined pressure points that are located on the hands and feet. These pressure points connect directly through the nervous system and carry signals to the bodily organs and glands. The reflexologist manipulates these pressure points according to specific techniques of reflexology therapy. By means of this touching therapy, any part of the body that is the source of pain, illness, or potential debility can be strengthened through the application of pressure at the respective foot or hand location. (Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, 2017)


Reflexology can stimulate more than 7,000 different nerve endings in a single session, increasing function, energy, circulation, reactivity, and even metabolism throughout the body. It can open and clean out neural pathways, which are like muscles. More oxygen reaches vital organ systems making them function better which also increases metabolism and energy creation processes. Most people notice a relaxed feeling and a state of calmness throughout the body and mind from reflexology treatment.

Reflexologists aim is not to manipulate soft tissue. Unless they are also massage therapists they won’t work on any other area of your body beyond your feet, hands, and ears. Massage therapists may have some knowledge of reflex zones, but massage techniques typically don’t utilize reflex zones. Reflexology is its own specialty. 

Chronic Pain ResourcesThese health issues include: chronic pain in general, back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, hormone imbalances, PMS, fertility, prenatal, menopause, digestive issues, asthma, IBS, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, rheumatoid arthritis, easing side effects of chemotherapy and insomnia.


Mental Health Benefits Include: Reducing stress, reducing anxiety, improving depression, and balancing the body and soul.


Physical Health Benefits Include: Enhancing the body’s ability to heal itself – improving cold, flu, and sinus problems, diminishing pain, improving blood flow, increasing circulation and improving delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells throughout the body.


Here are some stories of people whose health improved through Reflexology.

Chronic Pain ResourcesYou can find a certified reflexologist through ARCB or through your state reflexology association.


It’s recommended to try at least three visits before determining whether it’s working or not. If you have a chronic condition it will take longer to see results, depending on how long you’ve had that particular issue. It will most likely be beneficial to go in once a week starting out, but it will depend largely on your health issue. The number of sessions will also depend on the health issue, but treatments typically last four to six weeks.


The reflexologist may work on your feet, hands, or even ears depending on the health issue you face. If they are working on your feet, you will lay down and just remove your socks and shoes. They will then check over your feet for any open wounds, rashes, sores, plantar warts, bunions, or foot pain before starting. No matter what health condition the reflexologist is helping with, they will always start at the toes and work down to the base of your foot. The pressure applied is usually gentle. A reflexology therapy session can use many different techniques and may include all points on both feet, plus hands, and ears. Sessions are typically 30 to 60 minutes long. Many people experience feelings of relaxation, tingling in the body, warmth, and the feeling of energy moving throughout the body and to the painful area of the body.

Since the benefit is to normalize your body functions, it won't cause your condition to worsen. There are virtually no side effects, however some patients may have some discomfort in the second session, because of easing of pain and tension associated with the first therapy session.

Chronic Pain ResourcesAccording to reliefs on the walls of a Sixth Dynasty Egyptian Tomb and the tomb of Ankmahor, reflexology was practiced around the same time in Egypt. The evidence to the origin of reflexology is uncertain, but it has been helping people for thousands of years.


Thousands of physicians use reflexology across the globe. Reflexology is increasingly being used in wellness programs, cancer treatment centers, hospitals, and medical facilities throughout the US. Although there is some controversy on reflexology, thousands of traditions and reports show the success of the treatment. Reflexology is also growing in popularity in Asia and Europe as a complement to other treatments and for preventive health care. In Denmark it has resulted in reduced sick leave and absenteeism.


Learn more about the history of modern reflexology here.

Flanagan, Deborah. (2012, March 29th). The Dr. OZ Show/Reflexology 101. Retrieved from:


University of Minnesota: Taking Charge of your Health & Wellbeing/What Can I Expect in a First Reflexology Visit? Retrieved from:


Wallersteiner, Rebecca. (2012, September 25th). netdoctor/Health Benefits of Reflexology. Retrieved from:


Cruce, Adrian. (2016, June 27th). Health Annotation/6 Conditions Reflexology Can Help With. Retrieved from:


Organic Facts/10 Benefits of Reflexology. (2017, November 1st). Retrieved from:


International Institute of Reflexology: The Only School Licensed To Teach The Original Ingham Method of Reflexology. Retrieved from:


Angies list/What is the Difference Between Reflexology and Massage. Retrieved from:


"Reflexology." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Retrieved November 08, 2017 from