Healing crisis in reflexology: Becoming worse before becoming better

Thora Jenny Gunnarsdottir*, Helga Jonsdottir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In the previous study the effects of reflexology on symptoms of fibromyalgia (FM) were investigated. In this paper it will be explored whether healing crisis is experienced after reflexology in the same sample of women. Methods: Multiple case study method as developed by Stake was used to investigate the effects of reflexology on six cases of women with FM who were given ten weekly sessions of reflexology. Data were collected with observation, interviews and diary. Within and across case data analysis was employed. Results: Several different symptoms were experienced by all of the women after reflexology sessions, although differently for each of them. The symptoms presented as mixture of pain, fatigue, and flu like along with a variety of some other symptoms. This constellation of symptoms was more in tune with descriptions of the healing crisis phenomenon than with fibromyalgia. It gradually became worse until rather abruptly started to diminish around the seventh and eighth session. Conclusions: For the majority of the women the healing crisis symptoms gradually became worse before they started to decrease. This has similarities with other health professionals' accounts in the literature. Nurses and health professionals need to be aware of healing crisis effects when offering reflexology to patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-243
Number of pages5
JournalComplementary Therapies in Clinical Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported here was supported by The Icelandic Centre for Research (Rannis). Icelandic Nurse's Association, The Nursing Research Institute at the Faculty of Nursing and Minning Margretar.

Other keywords

  • Case study method
  • Fibromyalgia syndrome
  • Healing crisis
  • Reflexology
  • Symptom management


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