Author: Dr. Jenn Oram on 17 August 2021
Complimenting Naturopathic Medicine with Reflexology, a Case Study
Firstly, what is Reflexology?
Reflexology is the study of reflexes. Reflexology therapies are natural therapeutic methods based on the principle that there are reflexes in the body that map to other parts, glands, and organs of the body. Through the application of pressure on these reflexes using specific hand and finger techniques, reflexology therapy can relieve tension, support the body’s efforts to function optimally and improve circulation.
S.W. is a female client, age 81, and is also a patient of Dr. Michelle Durkin, ND at QNC. She enjoys walking a few kilometres a day. However, her habit of exercising daily had been hindered by severe sciatica and plantar fasciitis. She had a few Reflexology Treatments in 2020 to help with the affected body systems and pain and noticed improvement in her pain and mobility. She arrived to her Reflexology Treatment in February of 2021 and presented with a heel spur on her right foot which was confirmed by x-ray. During the Reflexology Treatment, which is approximately 45 min-1 hour in length, the location of the bone spur was treated only with very light pressure as it was very tender for S.W.
At her next Follow Up Reflexology Treatment in May of 2021, she was struggling to walk into her appointment as her heel spur was extremely painful and affecting her gait. She uses a cane when needed, which she used on this day. I asked S.W. to point to the exact location of the heel spur, which are typically found under or slightly to the back of the heel (see diagram below).
However, S.W. pointed to the area on the medial aspect (inside) of the foot, above the heel toward to the arch. On a Reflexology Foot Map, the area she was roughly pointing to referred to the “Bladder Reflex” (see red circle “bladder” on diagram below).
This was a flag for me as the practitioner as it is extremely unusual for a bone spur to develop in an area that is not directly affected by pressure, weight or friction. Her bone spur may have been associated with her history of plantar fasciitis. However, I prompted S.W. to explore more of her urinary tract history and current symptoms with me, if there were any. It is important to note that RCRT/RHN do not diagnose, treat or prescribe any specific health conditions; what we can do as practitioners is guide you to the area that is out of balance and refer out to a qualified specialist. S.W. initially exclaimed no urinary tract issues to her knowledge, however upon further questioning about the quality of her urine and bladder health she claimed that her bladder was sometimes cloudy, yellow and she had occasional frequency and urgency. I immediately recommended she relay these findings to her Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Michelle Durkin at QNC for her professional interpretation. It was important that she update Dr. Durkin, ND that her bone spur had developed over the bladder reflex, an atypical location. I mentioned that she may be interested in having her urine tested to get more information; a urinalysis which can be done at her Naturopathic or Doctor’s clinic. From there, treatment was determined by Dr. Durkin, ND and I requested a Reflexology Follow Up for 1 month, to give S.W. time to have a urinalysis done, receive the results and give time for any treatment to take effect.
Dr. Durkin, ND ran a UNA (urinalysis) at the clinic and found she was positive for leukocytes and protein in the urine which can be indicative of kidney dysfunction, cystitis and inflammation. S.W. has a family history of kidney dysfunction. Treatment was provided and a follow up UNA was ordered for 8 weeks. S.W. was also undergoing shockwave treatment for the heel spur to break up the calcium deposit.
Upon her next Reflexology Treatment in June of 2021, S.W. was walking extremely well into the office without a cane! She reported feeling much better overall and noticed a significant improvement in the bone spur discomfort as well as an improvement in her mobility - S.W. was able to start her daily walks again! I am grateful that S.W. saw the value in Reflexology as a viable complimentary therapy and for allowing myself and Dr. Michelle Durkin, ND to collaborate on her case. Even though initially she was not suspicious of any issues with her urinary tract, sometimes the symptoms that may seem ‘normal’ can, in fact, be little flags to tell us that the body is out of balance. She will continue her care under Dr. Durkin, ND and continue to have semi-monthly Reflexology treatments for prevention and maintenance. S.W.’s most recent UNA at the 8 week mark was negative on all parameters; healthy and normal!
One of my favourite sayings that I like to share with my clients is "who is in your wellness basket?". Make the effort to ensure you have a great team of health professionals that can work independently and/or together to optimize your health. My goal as a practitioner is to be a careful and compassionate listener - to your personal health issues that are most important to you and to the reflex areas of the feet that show imbalance. How can a tiny area of the foot show imbalance you ask? Well, reflexes that are out of balance can present as a ‘crunchy’ feeling, a hard spot, a ‘sandy’ feeling, a callous, corn or bunion. Interestingly, a bunion can indicate that you are ‘bending over backwards’ for people! The feet can tell us a lot about ourselves. When you take care of your feet, you take care of yourself. Build yourself a great wellness team by having a good relationship with your Medical Doctor, a Naturopathic Doctor and round out the team with Reflexology,Massage Therapy, Osteopathy, Acupuncture, Bowen therapy, mental and emotional health professionals, etc. etc. etc! 🙂
Yours in health,
Jennifer Oram, BSc, RHN, RCRT
If you would like to book a Naturopathic Medicine Consult with Dr. Michelle Durkin, ND, please call Quinte Naturopathic Centre at 613-966-9660. Visit our website at www.quintenc.ca!
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