Evaluation of the Effect of Reflexology on Pain Control and Analgesic Consumption After Appendectomy

J Altern Complement Med. 2015 Dec;21(12):774-80. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0270. Epub 2015 Sep 24.


Background and objective: Appendicitis is the most common cause of severe abdominal pain in the world, and the associated postsurgical pain, as occurs with other surgical procedures, is one of the most common problems. Today, there is a growing tendency toward nondrug methods and alternative medicine to reduce the adverse effects of drugs. Reflexology involves applying pressure on certain areas of the palms, feet, and ears in order to reduce stress and pain in certain areas of the body. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of reflexology massage on pain relief after appendectomy.

Methods: This clinical trial was conducted at the surgical emergency unit of Imam Reza Hospital of Mashhad, Iran, in 2013. Pain intensity and analgesic consumption were compared between 105 patients before and immediately, 1 hour, 6 hours, and 24 hours after the intervention in three groups of intervention, control, and placebo. Patients in all three groups received analgesics, as required. The experimental group received pressure on a defined area of the right foot for about 10 minutes and the Shen Men point of the ear for 1 minute. This pressure in the placebo group was applied on the left foot and the left earlobe. Patients in the control group received routine care only. The results were evaluated at a 95% confidence level, and data were analyzed using SPSS software version 12 (SPSS, Inc., Chicago, IL).

Results: At the beginning of the study, the mean pain intensity in different groups according to analysis of variance was not significantly different (p = 0.439); however, there was a notable difference in pain intensity between the intervention and other groups after reflexology therapy. In addition, methadone consumption was significantly lower in the reflexology group than in the other two groups (p ≤ 0.001).

Conclusion: Reflexology is effective for reducing pain after appendectomy surgery.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Appendectomy / adverse effects*
  • Appendicitis / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control*


  • Analgesics