Foot and Ankle Reflexology, Does It Work? This Foot Surgeons Opinion

Wikipedia states the following: “Reflexology, orzone therapy, is analternative medicineinvolving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet, hands, or ears with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on what reflexologists claim to be a system of zones and reflex areas that they say reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body. (Kunz, Kevin; Kunz, Barbara (1993).The Complete Guide to Foot Reflexology. Reflexology Research Project.)

A 2009 study (concludes) that”The best evidence available to date does not demonstrate convincingly that reflexology is an effective treatment for any medical condition”. I happen to agree with this statement. (Ernst E (2009). “Is reflexology an effective intervention? A systematic review of randomised controlled trials”.Med J Aust191(5): 2636.)

The basic tenet for Reflexology is that the body has an energy field that is interconnected with pressure points in the feet, hands and ears. The body is divided into 10 zones. Each zone has a corresponding zone on the feet, hand or ear. Reflexologists believe that by applying pressure to specific areas of the foot you can relieve pressure, stress or ailment to other areas of the body. Acupuncturists also use specific locations to relieve stress, pain or sickness. By placing pressure on one area, you can relieve it in another.

Is there merit to this? It is known that the body is interconnected via nerves, arteries and lymphatics. A theory is that this isn’t as much about energy fields as it is about pressure and circulation to certain nerve endings. These nerves are all connected in a network of electrical wiring, connecting everything from the foot to the brain, to the liver, lungs, lymphatics and more.

I am not going to strongly encourage reflexology to cure foot & ankle pain. I will recommend to have your significant other offer a foot massage specific to another area of the body and see what happens!

As always never self-diagnose and always consult with Dr. Jeff Bowman before seeking any treatment. For more information please contact Dr. Bowman at (713) 467-8886 or visit his website for more information and online appointments at

Category: Foot Health

Tags: ankle pain, Foot Massage, foot pain, Nerve Problems, Reflexology