Could hands-on health care replace painkillers? Massage therapists know the answer to that question firsthand.

New research indicates reflexology reduces feelings of pain, and may be as effective as over-the-counter pain medication.

This small study was conducted by researchers at the University of Portsmouth.

They found that people felt about 40 per cent less pain, and were able to stand pain for about 45 per cent longer, when they used reflexology as a method of pain relief, according to a press release.

Participants attended two sessions, in which they were asked to submerge their hand in ice water. In one of the sessions they were given reflexology before they submerged their hand, and in the other session they believed they were receiving pain relief from a TENS machine, that was not actually switched on.

The study has been published in the Journal of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practic.

Read the press release here.