Merck Manual

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Reflexology

By

Denise Millstine

, MD, Mayo Clinic

Reviewed/Revised Dec 2023
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Reflexology is considered a homunculus-based therapy because it presumes that the entire body is represented on the bottom of the feet or surface of the palm. In most clinical studies of reflexology, findings tend to be nonspecific effects on subjective symptoms (eg, causing relaxation, indistinguishable from that caused by massage). A few meta-analyses showed only low-quality evidence that reflexology is effective for pain management in palliative medicine (1 References Reflexology (a manipulative and body-based practice) is a variant of massage therapy that relies on manual pressure applied to specific areas of the palm or foot; these areas are believed to... read more ) and for reducing pain during labor (2 References Reflexology (a manipulative and body-based practice) is a variant of massage therapy that relies on manual pressure applied to specific areas of the palm or foot; these areas are believed to... read more , 3 References Reflexology (a manipulative and body-based practice) is a variant of massage therapy that relies on manual pressure applied to specific areas of the palm or foot; these areas are believed to... read more ).

References

  • 1. Candy B, Armstrong M, Flemming K, et al: The effectiveness of aromatherapy, massage and reflexology in people with palliative care needs: A systematic review. Palliat Med 34(2):179-194, 2020. doi:10.1177/0269216319884198

  • 2. Smith CA, Levett KM, Collins CT, et al: Massage, reflexology and other manual methods for pain management in labour. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 3(3):CD009290, 2018. Published 2018 Mar 28. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009290.pub3

  • 3. Liang X, Wu S, Li K, et al: The effects of reflexology on symptoms in pregnancy: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Heliyon 9(8):e18442, 2023. Published 2023 Jul 19. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e18442

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NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
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