Single-blind trial addressing the differential effects of two reflexology techniques versus rest, on ankle and foot oedema in late pregnancy

Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 2003 Nov;9(4):203-8. doi: 10.1016/S1353-6117(03)00054-4.


This single-blind randomised controlled trial explored the differential effects of two different foot reflexology techniques with a period of rest on oedema-relieving effects and symptom relief in healthy pregnant women with foot oedema. Fifty-five women in the third trimester were randomly assigned to one of the three groups: a period of rest, 'relaxing' reflexology techniques or a specific 'lymphatic' reflexology technique for 15 min with pre- and post-therapy ankle and foot circumference measurements and participant questionnaire. There was no statistically significant difference in the circumference measurements between the three groups; however, the lymphatic technique reflexology group mean circumference measurements were all decreased. A significant reduction in the women's symptom mean measurements in all groups (p<0.0001) was apparent. A 'perceived wellbeing' score revealed the lymphatic technique group (p<0.0001) significantly increased their wellbeing the most, followed closely by relaxing techniques (p<0.001) and then the control rest group (p<0.03). Lymphatic reflexology techniques, relaxing reflexology techniques and a period of rest had a non-significant oedema-relieving effect. From the women's viewpoint, lymphatic reflexology was the preferred therapy with significant increase in symptom relief.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Edema / nursing*
  • Edema / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg*
  • Massage* / methods
  • Massage* / nursing
  • Midwifery / methods*
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / nursing*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Rest*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Varicose Veins / nursing
  • Varicose Veins / prevention & control