Two 40-minute sessions of foot reflexology per week for four weeks resulted in a significant decrease in fatigue among women with multiple sclerosis (MS), both immediately after the four weeks of foot reflexology and two months later, according to recent research.
The study, “Comparing the effects of reflexology and relaxation on fatigue in women with multiple sclerosis,” involved 75 female multiple sclerosis patients. The women were randomly assigned to one of three groups: the reflexology group, the relaxation group or the control group.
Interventions and Outcome Measures for Multiple Sclerosis Patients
Those multiple sclerosis patients in the control group received standard medical care, whereas those in the reflexology group received two 40-minute sessions of foot reflexology each week for four weeks. Subjects in the relaxation group received 40 minutes of relaxation therapy twice a week for four weeks.
The main outcome measure in this study was fatigue, as the study’s authors reported that “fatigue is the most common and highly disabling symptom of MS.” Fatigue was assessed by questionnaire and also via a fatigue severity scale. This assessment occurred before the start of any intervention; immediately after the four-week intervention period; and again two months after the four-week intervention period ended.
Results of the research revealed that, although fatigue severity was no different among the women across the three groups before the start of the intervention period, there were significant differences both immediately after and two months after the interventions came to a close.
One such difference was that the mean score for fatigue severity was significantly lower in the reflexology group immediately after the four-week intervention as compared to the other two groups. In turn, the mean score for fatigue severity was lower in the relaxation group than in the control group immediately after the four-week intervention period as well.
Two months later, the mean score for fatigue severity remained lower in the reflexology group than in the other two groups.
“These findings reveal that the mean reduction in fatigue severity scores two months after the interventions were higher in the reflexology group compared to the relaxation group,” stated the authors.
“It seems that both interventions were effective in reducing fatigue, but the effects of reflexology on reducing fatigue were more than those of relaxation.”
About the Study
Authors: Fatemah Nazari, Mozhgan Soheili Shahreza, Vahid Shaygannejad and Mahboubeh Valiani.
Sources: Isfahan Neurosciences Research Center, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran; Department of Adult Health Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Alzahra Hospital, Isfahan, Iran. Originally published in March 2015 in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, 20(2), 200-204.