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Reflexology is not an effective treatment for any medical condition

Discussion in 'General Issues and Discussion Forum' started by LuckyLisfranc, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. Ian Linane

    Ian Linane Well-Known Member

    Nice result couple of days ago. Nurse at the clinic who had strained her back through work related things. The physio was not able to do anything that Friday and it meant the weekend without treatment. Her whole posture was typical of someone with severe back pain. I provided an impromptu spinal specific relexology approach (via the foot) which I have done on others before. Not a massage of the whole foot just specific "vertebral" aspects, as reflected on the foot.

    The nurse was not aware of which area of the spine the reflexes were "meant " to relate to. During the very brief session she comented on a warmth occuring in the area of her back related to the reflex area I was working on. Three hours later her back had improved considerably.

    Not offered as proof simply an anecdotal comment that is not an uncommon occurence from my experience.

    Personally I'll carry on providing the treatments.
    Ian
     
  2. The power of suggestion.

    Nurse A complains of back pain. Reflexologist B proceeds to apply a technique to help with said back pain. By doing so an exchange has taken place. Whether overt or covert, linguistic or otherwise, an understanding has been agreed that reflexologist B is going to try and help Nurse A's back pain.

    Thus, the placebo effect is introduced. Nurse A wants to feel better. 'Something' is seen to be 'done'. Nurse A feels better.

    The problem is of course the difference between coincidence and causality - mysticism & science.

    We do not use reflexology at our practice as its claims are unsubstantiated. If someone was to recommend offering foot massage (which is reflexology without the religiosity) I would be open to that idea.

    There is as much chance as there being connected pathways between the base of the foot and the organs, muscles, bones, spine etc. of the entire body as there is of water having a memory.
     
  3. Ian Linane

    Ian Linane Well-Known Member

    Hi Jimbob
    Welcome and thanks for the comments.

    Nothing new in them as any previous reading of discussion around this area on arena will show.

    Certainly placebo is important and I'm in favour of using it. Where I find I would differ is that over the years of using such techniques I find consistency. I, personally, am not satisfied that it is simply placebo alone. However I'm long passed the stage of arguing the thing and justget on with it.

    As to how it works? That's a different discussion which I've had with a number of people on the site on a personal one to one basis. (Along with some of the other "weird"things I occassionally do). Don't think they are any more convinced and I'm sure most think I'm away with the fairies still;) They are still kind to me though and buy me the odd drink :D
    Look forward to more contribution to the site from you.
    Ian

    Ian
     
  4. Thanks for the welcome.

    Originality is not my strong point. The more it is restated, the more chance the layperson will see reflexology for what it is.

    Does it not prick your conscience, like a pastor who has lost his faith but continues to preach because of the perceived good that organized religion brings?

    You are in a unique position to contribute. Perhaps a controlled blind study? You re-orientate the text in a diagram so the words are randomised:

    [​IMG]

    You then proceed to manipulate the 'false' pressure points when attempting to remedy a condition. Then record the responses from each participant (via a questionnaire?).

    Also give the questionnaire to a control group using the 'correct' (hmm...) pressure points and analyze the results from the raw data. Perhaps fifty participants per group, with an equality of complaints.

    A hypothesis. A study to discover the effect of foot massage on pain perception.

    As far as the drink is concerned. That is why I like alcohol: clear, concise, cause and effect. It also helps ease my pain.
     
  5. Ian Linane

    Ian Linane Well-Known Member

    Hi Jimbob

    Now at this point I have to suggest you are a secret psychic!:

    "Does it not prick your conscience, like a pastor who has lost his faith but continues to preach because of the perceived good that organized religion brings?"

    Indeed I am, well at least a former pastor!

    I am not likely to become involved in controlled study of reflexology mainly because my study interest lies elswhere.

    The conscience thing is interesting (and I know you were not being personal) and were I practicing reflexology out of a belief approach only and on the basis of energy lines or zone therapy and promoting it as such then I might be pricked.

    Rather, I have the struggle of some 15 years of practicing varous styles of reflexology, usually to peoples benefit, and so have, if you wish, an experience of clinic based evidence but also am of the above mentioned studies. Additionally I am aware of research in favour of the benefits of reflexology (I have mentioned this in previous comments but long ago gave the books etc away) often in hospice contexts or such like.

    Thestruggle is always can you ditch one and deny ones experience. I suppose if your going n a belief view then yes. If you are going on the basis of reasoned experiential evidence conflicting with researched evidence then I cannot.

    One of my favourite english word is "confluence". Rather than seeing the two aspects as diametrically opposed I see them as always in confluence and my understanding being an evolutonary outworking of the two.

    Ian
     
  6. Ian Linane

    Ian Linane Well-Known Member

    BTW, the trouble with reflexology maps is that they are not all the same (Aaaah)!!!! Damn.
     
  7. Ian:

    You mention you just treated "vertebral" aspects with your patient, but then you go on to say that the reflexology maps of the foot aren't consistent.

    The whole concept of reflexology doesn't have a shred of evidence that has any scientific basis, in my opinion. Why don't you just say you gave a therapeutic foot massage to the nurse and, anecdotally, her back felt better afterwards, and I wouldn't have any problem with your claims. Remember the claims of Brian Rothbart for his proprioceptive insoles? I don't think you want to be lumped in with him, do you?
     
  8. It depends what you mean by the "whole concept" and "scientific basis", Kevin. Reflexology seems to perform better than a placebo foot massage in a randomised controlled trial: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8233263

    Which is more than can be said of foot orthoses in the treatment of juvenile hallux valgus.

    Just drinking the Devil's advocaat ;):drinks
     
  9. Simon:

    Thanks for that. I stand corrected. :drinks

    Ian:

    If you could have 10 people lined up in front of you with various systemic illnesses to different organs, do you think you could diagnose their conditions accurately using reflexology as is suggested by certain reflexology advocates?
     
  10. Ian Linane

    Ian Linane Well-Known Member

    Hi Kevin

    Indeed there are inconsistencies that occur between reflexology mappings of the foot, though usually only small. However the Spine is always, in the ones I've seen, reflected along the medial arch of the foot. I put "vertebral" in brackets as an indicator of some people views rather than as point of issue. That said it has been consistent in my 15 years of practice, for what it's worth.


    Why don't you just say you gave a therapeutic foot massage to the nurse and, anecdotally, her back felt better afterwards, and I wouldn't have any problem with your claims.

    I don't remember "claiming" beyond giving an anecdotal example (out of the many I've known over the years) as to why I hold the science and experience in tension. To that extent it's my integrity that prevents me going down the purely science road and means I have to hold the two in tension. I was not giving a therapeutic massage rather I was working on a specific part of the foot with the intension of stimulating change somewhere, somehow. That was my intention, what I did and is the honest intention. I am comfortable with that.

    Remember the claims of Brian Rothbart for his proprioceptive insoles? I don't think you want to be lumped in with him, do you?

    Hopefully I understand you and your motivations enough to consider this sentence to be one of genuine concern for me. Hopefully you know enough about me to realise this is equally, genuinely appreciated. Were I making claims to pts that suggested scientific and guaranteed therapeutic benefit then maybe I should be tarred with the same brush. So far as I recollect this has not been a view I have held or ever put to patients..

    However, I do value integrity. So, if my genuine and personally reasonable position or view of something results in me being placed in the snake-oil category by peers then my personal sense of integrity wins hands down and a snake-oil man is what I will become in the eyes of some. Whilst it is a moniker I do not agree with I can live with it.

    We will have to agree to disagree. Perhaps I should have a snake as my avatar;)

    Cheers
    Ian
     
  11. As a good friend of mine says, I can't have that.

    I don't think comparing Ian's claims to Brian's (or Ian to Brian)is remotely fair. Ian believes in an existing modality (which BTW I don't). He is not selling it, criticising others for not accepting it, suggesting people avoid the alternatives to it, nor profiting from it. He did not invent it. He is not proposing it replace anything else anyone does. He has not targeted his claims at vulnerable people, he has not claimed to make downs syndrome children "look normal" nor that he can make an infertile woman conceive. He stand to profit exactly nothing from anyone else accepting his beliefs. Reflexology is only a part of his clinical practice, rather than all he does. He accepts that his belief comes from his observation of results rather than concocting some half baked illogical rationale for them and If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to discuss this with him in person you find his view to be far more balanced and open minded than most.

    Like I say, I don't believe that there is a mode of action for reflexology beyond suggestion, placebo etc. But it would not be the first alternative therapy we initially do not understand then later discover that there ARE repeatable outcomes which defy the placebo explanation. Acupuncture springs to mind. Just because we don't understand the method should not stop us observing results. And Ian did make a point of saying that it was ONLY AN ANECDOTE. Brian would have claimed it as evidence!!

    Ian is not proposing Reflexology is the "holy grail" of medicine, he simply reported a data point. The description he gave to it reflected the standard terminology for the method used. Whilst I may disagree with him I think comparing his mild and self depricating report of a anecdotal success to Brians wild arrogant and indiscriminate claims is unfair!

    Regards
    Robert
     
  12. Ian:

    I do value your integrity and my comment was to remind you of how your remark of being able to treat back pain through rubbing on the plantar foot of the patients sounds to the average medical health professional. I am interested, but remain very skeptical.:drinks
     
  13. Ian Linane

    Ian Linane Well-Known Member

    Hi Kevin

    Simple answer is no (though I'd like to be a bugger and say yes :) ). Reflexology, in general, is not and should not be taught as a diagnostic tool.

    That I have found what Simon has previously referred to as "hot spots" in sites that may represent organs of the body is nothing more than an indicator that such an area can be treated with a view to possibly stimulating improvement and no more. For example, it may be that a hot spot or area is determined in an area of the transverse colon on the left foot (rather than the right foot say). Such things have been consistently tender in pts I have used the treatment on with regards to IBS. However for any reflexologist to diagnose they have IBS is wrong, that must be a medical diagnosis, as it may be some other form of inflammatory condition or worse.

    I mainly use "reflexology" style treatments on family and friends or pts who enquire if I will try to help them these days as my business is not built around comp medicine.

    Cheers
    Ian
     
  14. Ian Linane

    Ian Linane Well-Known Member

    Hi Kevin

    Thank you.
    ...my comment was to remind you of how your remark of being able to treat back pain through rubbing on the plantar foot of the patients sounds to the average medical health professional. I am interested, but remain very skeptical.

    Therein lies the tension.

    The technique I used for the back pain was mainly one that involved no rubbing. It is a technique initially developed by someone and that was further developed by a Physiotherapist and trialled as a pilot in a GP surgery and (I think) a hospital department to treat those who suffered from chronic whiplash injuries. The benefits appeared to be considerable and I understand the results were sufficient for some of the leading UK insurance companies to refer pts to her as a physio practising this technique. I believe she began a PHd project in it but had to pull out for specific reasons.
    Ian
    (don't I just get more off the wall!!)
     
  15. Here's an interesting thought. When Kilmartin published his controlled trial of foot orthoses in the treatment of juvenile hallux valgus and reported a negative outcome, many said "yeah, but you used the wrong type of orthoses", so if we have a controlled trial of reflexology that reports a negative outcome, can we say "yeah, but they used the wrong "foot map""?

    Just a thought.

    BTW, I hate advocaat, and snowballs are worse. :dizzy:

    Just a bit of fun.
     
  16. Robert, for sure you are welcome to you own point of view, but can your argument withstand the published evidence? ;)

    Cherry B, I do like. Any other drinks only drunk at christmas? Here's my list so far:
    Advocaat
    Snowball
    Cherry B
     
  17. I'll offer Gluwein, but I suspect posh people who go skiing have that outside of the Christmas season, the missus say's sherry- the jury is out on that. My mom uses gold label barley wine in her christmas puds- lethal kit when drunk from the bottle.
     
  18. Ian Linane

    Ian Linane Well-Known Member

    Hi Simon

    Here's an interesting thought. When Kilmartin published his controlled trial of foot orthoses in the treatment of juvenile hallux valgus and reported a negative outcome, many said "yeah, but you used the wrong type of orthoses", so if we have a controlled trial of reflexology that reports a negative outcome, can we say "yeah, but they used the wrong "foot map""?

    Just a thought.

    BTW, I hate advocaat, and snowballs are worse.

    Just a bit of fun.


    Maybe. Guess you'd have to throw in other variables such as depth of pressure, mm area covered per pressure application, then more importantly were the therapists eyes blue :D if so while his bowel got better did his blood pressure go up!

    Ian
     
  19. Glögg in Sweden
    Egg Nogg north america ( my old boss in the ski shop in Whistler used to make a mean home brew for xmas eve whilst working followed by a cinammon shot made for a great day on the busiest selling day of the year) ... Boot modifications always seemed more fun on that day too.
     
  20. I´ve been following along and With this thread and some of the acuputure threads.

    Maybe its got a little more to do with culture. Say in the west we must know why it works. The nuts and bolts of the treatment or the science behind everything.

    Where in the East where a lot of these type of treatments come from its more like this has worked for 3000 years so there must be something in it. A type of treatment Darwinism if you will. The treatment that works keep getting used.

    People might say the now days there is no evidence that this or that works so people charging for the treatment are ripping people off, but if we consider where this came from the healer 2000 years ago in the East got no money and they kept the treatments going.
     
  21. Unless he is providing treatment free of charge outside of any salaried income he may have, then in some tangential way profiting from it. Not that there is anything wrong with that; we all have bills to pay.

    The abstract is interesting. As it should be, one trial does not make consensus and I would be interested in looking into the repeatability of the study. A few questions arise:

    How was the 'significantly greater decrease in premenstrual symptoms' quantified?

    Were the indicators and four point scale robust?

    Motivation. Both groups were treated by a trained reflexologist, who could be said to have a dog in the fight, and may not have been as objective as one may have liked. Perhaps, a bit like asking Les Bailey to walk about in a pair of his orthotics and ask him hoe he feels?

    You are correct in your advocacy of the devil though Simon. As you have already pointed out, the scientific method is not to blame, but the application of it by human beings sometimes is. Because I, like Kevin, are sceptical, I pick holes in the study, whereas if it had been negative in its outcome I would have used it as evidence.

    Which is why consensus is so important; to try and reduce subjectivity wherever it can. Otherwise we are just Sir Digby Chicken-Caeser running around the world with our own perception of reality.

    Correct, but perhaps philosophically, and historically 'western' and 'eastern' might be clumsy definitions.

    Just because something is old does not mean it is right, or truthful. If that was the case, I would have attended work this morning on a mule.

    The healer 2000 years ago whilst not receiving 'money', s/he most certainly received a social status which provided the same if not greater effect as the medical professional today. I do not see many people bowing at the feet of podiatrists today like a tribe praising their witch doctor. Hmm, perhaps I should encourage that?

    Your point remains. Yes we in the 'west' need to understand the working of something to have an positive/negative opinion on it. That is why we are largely logical and scientific. When we were a younger species it was enough to come to a consensus through belief. This I posit is a spiritual mode of knowing the world, and a less evolved/civilised state than the former.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 13, 2009
  22. wend0164

    wend0164 Member

    Hi,

    Very interesting comments.
    I am a Podiatrist and Reflexologist.

    Started out studying Reflexology and felt there was something missing, so ended u doing Podiatry.
    One is not much good without the other.

    I am very thankful that the GPs in my area do not knock anything due to lack of evidence.
    During Podiatry treatments, i have been able through intergration of Reflexology to pick up many medical conditions. I have dually referred the patient straight to the GP and my findings proved to be true.

    Orthodox and holistic approaches go hand in hand and compliment each other.
    Many things in life evidence cannot prove, but that does not mean it is not so.
    Try studying it and applying it and you may change your mind, or at least get you thinking!!!!!!!
    I thought as therapists one was supposed to have an open mind and not be biased.
    I enjoy my job with Podiatry and Reflexology, and so long as the patient benefits thats all that matters.
    Wendy
     
  23. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Articles:
    1
    A Pilot Study Exploring the Effects of Reflexology on Cold Intolerance.
    Zhang W, Takahashi S, Miki T, Fujieda H, Ishida T.
    J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2010 Mar;3(1):43-48.
     
  24. I wonder why they bother with research this weak.

    Bias and open mindedness are not opposites, they are entirely separate. One can be open minded AND bias or closed minded and unbiased. Or indeed any combination of the two.

    I maintain that whilst lack of evidence is NOT the same as evidence of lack, it is a reasonable position to disbelieve anything which has not been shown, not from the viewpoint of It CAN'T be true, just that it has not yet been shown to be true.

    To take an analogy. I have a box. I tell you it contains a teddy bear and that you should buy the box because it contains the bear. Theoretically, your logical position should be one of skepticism. You should not draw the conclusion that it does NOT contain the bear, nor that it DOES. Both of these are illogical. The correct response is to say that it MAY contain a bear. Bias is what would lead one to confidently state that either that there is, or is not a bear.

    Belief is a positive. Active disbelief is the belief in the contrary proposition and is also a positive. Lack of belief is simply that, the opposite of belief.

    From a practical point of view, medical science tends to work on the basis that if something Is not demonstated, it should be treated as such. There is no evidence that eating goji berries does not prevent flu, so we cannot say confidently they do not, however one would also not recommend it. Medically, active belief is required.

    Reflexology, for me, falls in this catagory. It has undenyable validity as a placebo and that is fair enough. But there is simply not enough evidence to draw a conclusion on the rest. I think it not unreasonable to advise people accordingly. That said there is more than enough empirical evidence to justify further study. The claim of diagnosis for eg, should not be hard to prove!



    But I remain open to the idea of being shown the teddy bear.
     
  25. Griff

    Griff Moderator

    Or maybe the teddy bear is both present and absent in the box at the same time?

    Schrodinger's teddy bear ;)
     
  26. W J Liggins

    W J Liggins Well-Known Member

    Hi Ian

    I have not yet heard Reflexologists claim quantum effects - until you just did. However, if we accept for a moment that it does, then it does and does not work. However, Schrodinger used his analogy to show that the cat could not 'be' and 'not be' at the same time and by the same token reflexology cannot work - unless of course, it is magic!

    All the best

    Bill
     
  27. Actually not the worst model in the world!

    So the effectiveness, or not, of an unresearched treatment exists not in a binary state, but in a smeared out state of indeterminacy. To paraphrase schrodinger, the treatment is Both placebo and not placebo at the same time. That is until someone does an rct and collapses the uncertainty field forcing the treatment to resolve into one waveform or other.

    I name this the Griffiths Isaacs Modern Physics model.
     
  28. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Articles:
    1
    Effects of Self-Foot Reflexology on Stress, Fatigue, Skin Temperature and Immune Response in Female Undergraduate Students.
    Lee YM.
    J Korean Acad Nurs. 2011 Feb;41(1):110-118.
     
  29. Griff

    Griff Moderator

    I had a sports massage the other day. Without doubt it raised the local skin temperature. Also felt pretty nice afterwards (I'd dare say that if asked I would have perceived my stress/fatigue levels to have reduced). Are these not known physiological responses to massage? They are in my book.

    Question - does anyone know of a study which has compared 'reflexology' to simple 'massage' (instead of comparing it to a control group which receives no intervention at all)?

    I suspect the results would not be as significant...
     
  30. Correct there is a few in a quick search...

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-0528.2002.01504.x/full

     
  31. Phil Rees

    Phil Rees Active Member

    Just a thought .... how would a reflexologist treat a Bi-lateral below knee amputee?
     
  32. Ian Linane

    Ian Linane Well-Known Member

    Hi Phil.
    Take it you're the Phil I know. Good to see you here.
    To answer the question they would use the hands.
     
  33. lusnanlaogh

    lusnanlaogh Active Member

  34. footdrcb

    footdrcb Active Member

    :good:Well I guess if it able to be done via the hands, it sort of makes the whole foot thing reduntant.

    Oh the mystery we call Life. :dizzy:

    F
     
  35. NeedingMassage

    NeedingMassage Active Member

    Just pick a body part and draw a map e.g. attached picture
    Regards,
    Owen
     

    Attached Files:

  36. footdrcb

    footdrcb Active Member



    The mind boggles :eek:


    F
     
  37. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Articles:
    1
    Effect of foot reflexology on pain reduction in older Thai people
    Somchock, Jeranut
    Thesis; Flinders University; 2012
     
  38. Peter

    Peter Well-Known Member

    Given the fact that i can't even remember the last time a pt of mine (or anybody I know for that matter) use a reflexologist, says it all about its benefits.
     
  39. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Articles:
    1
    The Effects of Foot Reflexology on Peripheral Neuropathy, Symptom Distress, Anxiety and Depression in Cancer Patients Treated with Oxaliplatin
    Se Young Lee, Yun Hee Ham, Oh Nam Ok, Eun Ji Kim, In Gak Kwon, Moon Sook Hwang, and Myung Sook Cho
    Asian Oncol Nurs. 2012 Dec;12(4):305-313.
     
  40. Rob Kidd

    Rob Kidd Well-Known Member

    While I make no comment about reflexology per se, and I certainly do not endorse its eficacy, I used to teach anatomy to reflexology students at one of the centres in NSW. Their leader was a charming, highly inteligent lady and the students, almost without exception, seemed to be highly caring people. Sometimes we tend to forget about the caring part of the so-called "caring professions". As I have got older, I have learned that there is much I do not understand - maybe, just maybe, reflexology is one of those things. Rob
     
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