Background: Humans have been involved with the phenomena of pain and pain relief from the ancient times. Back pain is the most common pain. In fact, eight out of ten people experience it in their lifetime. However, individuals with specific jobs, including nurses, are faced with this problem more. Nursing is in the top ten careers suffering from the most severe musculoskeletal injuries. There are non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic treatments to relieve back pain. One of the non-medical treatments of pain is called reflexology which is a branch of complementary and alternative therapies. This research has been conducted to investigate the effect of reflexology on chronic low back pain intensity.
Materials and methods: This study was a double-blind clinical trial. The study population consisted of 50 female and male nurses suffering from chronic low back pain working in hospitals affiliated with Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. The participants were divided into two groups of reflexology and non-specific massage. A questionnaire was completed through interviews and a 40 minute sessions of interventions were performed three times a week for two weeks. Pain intensity was measured by Numerical Analogue Scale for pain before and after the intervention. Descriptive and inferential statistics, including independent t-test and chi-square test, were used to analyze the data.
Findings: The results showed a significantly higher reduction in pain intensity scores in the reflexology group after the intervention as compared with the non-specific massage group. However, the non-specific massage was also significantly effective in reducing pain.
Conclusions: Reflexology can be effective in reducing the severity of chronic back pain, i.e. it is able to reduce pain from moderate to mild. Thus, this technique is recommended to be performed by nurses as a complementary therapy in patient care.
Keywords: Pain; back pain; complementary therapies; nursing; reflexology.