Back Pain Treatment: Reflexology

Reflexology is an alternative medicine that is designed to eliminate pain or restore function to a particular organ or body structure by applying pressure to a certain area of the body. Reflexology, and many other Eastern healthcare systems believe that there are acupoints on certain areas on the outside of our bodies that can be manually manipulated, by applying pressure to them, in order to increase the flow of energy to specific body structures and sections to treat pain and disease. The belief is that our body consists not of only the actual structures we can see and measure on an X-Ray or MRI, but an essential life energy called qi that flows through the body along invisible channels called meridians that reach every part of our living tissue. According to this theory, various changes can occur within and to our body to throw this qi out of balance, or obstruct the flow of energy in one of these channels. The result of an out of balance qi or blockage of energy could manifest as back pain, disease, or even emotional stress or anxiety. In order to restore vitality to our health, we may stimulate specific points in our body, called acupoints. Many acupoints exist on specific locations on our skin, and can be stimulated manually, using hands on manipulation (acupressure), fine needle puncture (acupuncture), fine needle puncture along with electrical stimulation (electroacupuncture), heat, herbs, magnets, and even bee stings.

Reflexology is based on similar concepts to these eastern alternative treatments, though instead of focusing on the acupoints along meridians as acupuncture and acupressure, it is thought to work by stimulating nerve endings in the ears, hands, and feet. One thing that separates this alternative therapy from the other hands-on therapies is the patient's ability to do self-treatment, without the need for any special lotions or specialty pieces of equipment. The ears, hands, and feet can be reached easily, for most people. Most patients can try out this treatment by learning about it from various media sources (books, internet, and videos) or from taking one or more lessons from an expert in this field. This type of self-treatment is safe, and wasting your time is the worst thing that can come of it.

Unlike qi theory that supposes invisible energy fields to be manipulated in order to facilitate treatment, Reflexology is based on the mapping of the human body to connect various nerve endings in our feet, hands, and ears to various sections of our back and vital organs. For example, proponents of this science believe that nerve endings in the pads of our toes are associates with our head and sinuses, nerve endings in the heels of our feet are connected to our sciatic nerve, and that nerve ending in the inner part of our feet, in front of our heel, are associated with our lumbar vertebrae. By stimulating these various sections, we may be able to promote healing in the sections of the body these nerves are wired to.

We also have nerve endings between the palm and wrist that are wired to certain sections of our lower back, and stimulation of these nerve endings may also provide back patients with relief. People suffering from neck pain may experience pain relief by stimulating the anterior (bottom) section of our feet, on the medial (closer to the midline of our body) side of our foot, just below the big toe.