Post Operative


Post-Operative / Post-Surgical Care and Reflexology Research


Researchers note the value of reflexology provided to post surgical patients: speeding recovery time; easing pain and anxiety as well as improving quality of life.

Research demonstrates that post surgical patients who receive reflexology work experience significant improvements:

  • easing pain while avoiding adverse effects of medications and adding to pain-killing efforts when medication alone is not enough
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  • easing anxiety, common in post-surgical patients
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  • improving quality of life for patients, e.g. avoiding constipation and better sleep
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  • improving patient satisfactionSuch improvements have financial consequences:
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  • earlier discharge from the hospital as bowel and bladder functions return earlier
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  • “Reductions in total hospitalization costs, medication use and adverse events.”


Reflexology has been found to speed recovery following surgery.

  • Reflexology application speeds recovery of urinary and gastrointestinal functions. These functions necessary for discharge from the hospital. Aside from patient quality of life, earlier discharge is a money-saving issue.
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  • Further recovery results were reported for those receiving pacemakers including improved postoperative wound pain, postural hypotension, and wound healing and for those undergoing gastrointestinal surgery, improved abdominal distension rate.


Mood / Anxiety

Depression and anxiety lessened when reflexology was applied post- surgically. Quality of life improved as well including physical, social/ family, emotional, and functional well-being.


Lessened pain and/or a decrease in the amount of medication required is found when reflexology is applied post-surgically. Lessened pain and/or a decrease in the amount of medication is reported post- surgically in research of patients following: mastectomy; abdominal surgery; gastric and liver cancer; prostatectomy; open heart and general surgery patients. In one study of gynecological patients, better results were found with the control group, foot massage, and use of reflexology was not recommended.

As noted by those who conducted one study: “‘Roughly 80 percent of patients report moderate to severe pain levels after surgery,’ says Gregory Plotnikoff, M.D., (he Penny George Institute for Health and Healing at Abbott Northwestern Hospital (Minneapolis, MN) …. “‘We struggle to provide effective pain control while trying to avoid the adverse effects of opioid medications, such as respiratory depression, nausea, constipation, dizziness and falls.’”

“‘Our real-world study broadly shows that these therapies (including reflexology) … can be clinically implemented in real time, across, and under the operational and financial constraints within an acute care hospital.’”… “‘I think we will find that integrative approaches to pain management during the hospital stay will improve patient satisfaction and outcomes, and we will see cost savings from patients using fewer drugs and experiencing fewer adverse events,” said Lori Knutson, RN, BSN, HN-BC, executive director of the George Institute.”

For how-to instructions for reflexology techniques with full color photos and illustrations, see Complete Reflexology for Life by Barbara and Kevin Kunz.

Medical Applications of Reflexology: Findings in Research about Post- operative Care, Maternity Care, and Cancer Care by Barbara and Kevin Kunz provides research information for post-operative patients, loved ones and researchers wanting full information about reflexology use with post-operative care. Included is how detailed information and analysis from post-operative studies around the world.