A randomised controlled study of reflexology for the management of chronic low back pain

Eur J Pain. 2007 Nov;11(8):878-87. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2007.01.006. Epub 2007 Apr 24.


The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for the management of chronic low back pain (CLBP) continues to rise. However, questions regarding the efficacy of many CAM therapies for CLBP remain unresolved. The present study investigated the effectiveness of reflexology for CLBP. A pragmatic randomised controlled trial was conducted. N=243 patients were randomised to one of three groups: reflexology, relaxation, or non-intervention (usual care). All completed a questionnaire booklet before and after the treatment phase, and at six months follow up. This measured their general health status, pain, functioning, coping strategies and mood. After adjusting for pre-treatment scores repeated measures ANCOVA found no significant differences between the groups pre and post treatment on the primary outcome measures of pain and functioning. There was a main effect of pain reduction, irrespective of group. Trends in the data illustrated the pain reduction was greatest in the reflexology group. Thus, the current study does not indicate that adding reflexology to usual GP care for the management of CLBP is any more effective than usual GP care alone.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Treatment Outcome