A total of five RCTs were included in this review (n=251), all of which met basic quality criteria as explained in the Validity Assessment field. In all trials, the control or comparator groups received the same number and duration of contact sessions as the experimental arms. Only one trial specified the type of reflexology techniques used. Statistically significant differences were found only for measures of urinary symptoms, paresthesia and spasticity in patients with MS. No trials reported any adverse effects associated with the use of reflexology.
Multiple Sclerosis (n=53 recruited but analysis based on 27 to 43 completers): statistically significant improvements were reported for the reflexology group over calf massage in urinary symptoms, paresthesia and spasticity. However, the table of effect sizes showed only results for the urinary symptoms were statistically significant (ES = -0.91, 95% CI: -1.55, -0.23). Muscle strength improved only slightly, but at 3 months the improvement in spasticity was still statistically significant.
Menopausal symptoms (n= 69): no significant differences between reflexology and non-specific foot massage were noted in any of the outcomes measured (severity of hot flushes/night sweats, quality of life).
Bronchial asthma (n=40): no significant differences were found in lung function between reflexology and sham foot massage group.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (n=34): no statistically significant differences were observed between reflexology and sham foot massage for abdominal pain, constipation/diarrhoea or bloating.
Oedema of the feet in late pregnancy (n=55): this trial compared lymphatic versus relaxing reflexology with rest. No significant differences were found between groups for mean ankle and foot circumference measurements following treatment.