Evaluation of efficacy and feasibility of foot reflexology in children experiencing chronic or persistent pain

Bull Cancer. 2019 Dec;106(12):1073-1079. doi: 10.1016/j.bulcan.2019.05.008. Epub 2019 Jul 26.


Background: Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) are increasingly used in the therapeutic arsenal, particularly for pain management. Foot reflexology (FR) is still poorly evaluated, specifically in the pediatric population. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of FR sessions in children experiencing chronic or persistent pain.

Methods: We conducted a prospective study in two pediatric centers from January 2011 to January 2014. Sessions of FR were offered to children regardless of their age, experiencing persistent pain (>72h) or chronic pain (>3 months). A form was completed by the patient before and after each FR sessions. The effectiveness of the session was evaluated using a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) for both pain and anxiety.

Results: One hundred and twenty-two patients suffering from persistent pain were included. We observed a significant decrease of mean VAS pain scores after each session (respectively P<0.001, P<0.001 and P=0.015) and of mean VAS anxiety scores (P<0.001) for all sessions). Seventy patients suffering from chronic pain were included. Decrease in VAS pain scores was statistically significant after each reflexology session for children suffering from headache and musculoskeletal pain (P<0.001). Anxiety was significantly lower after each session (P<0.001).

Conclusion: In 192 pediatric patients, FR significantly reduce pain and anxiety in children suffering from persistent or chronic pain. This CAM could have a place in pain management in children but needs to be evaluated in larger cohorts.

Keywords: Anxiety; Anxiété; Children; Complementary and alternative medicines; Douleur; Foot reflexology; Pain; Pédiatrie; Réflexologie plantaire; Thérapies alternatives et complémentaires.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Foot*
  • Headache / psychology
  • Headache / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations / methods*
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / psychology
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / therapy
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult