Pain Management

Could a Stranger Massaging Your Feet Help Soothe Chronic Pain?

We’ve all heard the ‘have you tried…’ comment when you say you have a chronic illness. There are a variety of alternative remedies from yoga and pilates to aromatherapy and reflexology. We think people should try things themselves and see if it helps them. Everyone is unique and so are their symptoms: what relieves pain for one person, might not do anything for another. We spoke to Reflexologist Georgie McCulloch to see how the ancient practice of applying pressure to particular points on the hands and feet could help ease chronic pain.

What is reflexology and how can it be used for pain relief?

Reflexology is a holistic treatment. It is based on the theory that all the organs, glands and systems of the body are connected to reflex points on the feet.

By stimulating these points, you can trigger the body’s own healing mechanisms. It releases blocked energy from these reflex points and brings the whole body into a state of balance. It is not a one-size-fits-all type of treatment and everyone will respond differently

benefits of reflexology for pain relief
PHOTO: MIN AN/PEXELS

When someone is suffering from chronic pain, for instance from endometriosis, I would treat the whole of both feet. This helps paint a picture of the body as a whole. But I would concentrate particularly on the area which is most painful, in this case the whole pelvic region.

Reflexology can focus on other body systems too. For instance the central nervous system, the lymphatic system for reducing inflammation, and the digestive system for elimination of toxins.

A calm and peaceful environment is key

The client’s experience of reflexology is vitally important for healing. A quiet, calm environment is ideal. The client should be warm and comfortable, usually semi-reclined with the knees bent and lower back supported.

reflexology to ease chronic pain
PHOTO: NICOLE DE KHORS/BURST

Deep relaxation helps stimulate the release of endorphins. This causes an analgesic effect which is why reflexology for chronic pain relief has been practised for many years.

Georgie’s client now has regular reflexology for chronic pain relief

Ella was diagnosed with MS about 9 months ago. She experiences numbness and pain in her foot, leg, arm and face, mainly on the left side of her body. Another symptom is the ‘MS hug’ which creates the feeling that there is a tight band around the chest and torso. It causes a constant ache in her diaphragm and intercostal muscles between the ribs.

She tried reflexology to see if it would relieve any of her symptoms. She was happy to experience a release from her MS hug just 10 minutes into the reflexology treatment. This effect lasted for about a week after the treatment which was a great result for her. She now has regular treatments for pain relief and to help her relax.


If you would like to hear more from Georgie about reflexology, then head over to her website.

best yoga poses for chronic pain

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