Although many people are aware of the relief massage therapy offers musculoskeletal pain, many folks are surprised to learn of the long history that reflexology enjoys in this area. Some people even think that reflexology holds an advantage over massage in addressing pain disorders, because reflexology can address both pathological and non-pathological musculoskeletal pain, while massage addresses only the latter.
In North America, reflexology’s association with pain management began in the early 1900’s, when Dr. William Fitzgerald, often referred to as the “father of modern reflexology”, introduced zone therapy into his medical practice. Dr. Fitzgerald successfully utilized reflexology techniques to anesthetize his patients for nose and throat surgeries. One of Dr. Fitzgerald’s many research findings also taught us that “when pain was relieved, the condition that produced the pain was also generally relieved”.
In my reflexology practice I can think of countless times that my services resulted in long-term relief of both somatic and visceral pain: headaches, neck and low back pain, plantar fasciitis, TMJ dysfunction, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, sprains and menstrual cramps, to name a few.
In my own life, I can recall many occasions as well. One in particular stands out, when I had driven out-of-town to teach a weekend workshop. Rather suddenly I found myself with an excruciating toothache. During the workshop I worked constantly on the teeth reflexes on my hands, and was able to reduce my #9 pain level to a bearable #2, until such time I could get home to have it attended to. All of that without any medication!
Like massage, reflexology is divided into the relaxation model and the pain management model. Because I personally believe that relaxation is the basis of health, I choose to include instruction for both protocols in the Therapeutic Hand & Foot Reflexology Professional Certification. In the program, students learn how to specifically address well over 50 pathological and non-pathological imbalances that cause acute and chronic discomfort and pain. When they have completed their training, these folks are well-equipped to help people seeking their assistance.
Some economists believe pain management to be recession-proof. That makes sense. People In pain will go to any length to find relief from their discomfort. They will look high and low for someone who can provide hope, answers and a plan that can restore function and ease. No matter the cost.
Those same economic researchers tell us that manual therapy is the fastest growing segment of the service industry. If you haven’t already, maybe it’s time you joined those of us who have dedicated our lives to helping others live their best life? The true reward for a reflexologist is having happy clients return to say they are living pain-free. Success like that is both gratifying and lucrative for any manual therapist.
What’s been your experience with pain management and reflexology?