Effect of applying reflexology massage on nitroglycerin-induced migraine-type headache: A placebo-controlled clinical trial

Agri. 2018 Jul;30(3):116-122. doi: 10.5505/agri.2018.43815.


Objectives: Nitroglycerin (NTG)-induced migraine-type headache is the most prominent side effect of nitrate therapy. Therefore, the aim of this study was to clarify the effectiveness of reflexology massage on intravenous NTG-induced headache in coronary care unit (CCU) inpatients.

Methods: This was a randomized clinical trial. The study sample included 75 patients that were randomly divided into three groups: control, intervention, and placebo groups. The intensity of baseline headache in patients who received NTG was measured by the numeric rating scale for pain (NRS Pain). Patients in the intervention group received reflexology massage two times for 20 min (at 3-h interval), wherein the upper part of patient's both foot thumbs, which is the reflection point of the head, was massaged. In the placebo group, an unspecified point on the foot (heel), which was not related to the head, was massaged. Patients in the control group did not receive any massage.

Results: No baseline differences existed among the three groups for the mean pain scale score (p=0.66) before the study; but the difference between the groups after the application was statistically significant (p=0.000).

Conclusion: Reflexology massage can reduce the intensity of NTG-induced headache.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Angina Pectoris / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / chemically induced
  • Migraine Disorders / nursing
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Nitroglycerin / administration & dosage
  • Nitroglycerin / adverse effects*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Placebos
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Vasodilator Agents / adverse effects*


  • Placebos
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Nitroglycerin