Therapeutic Touch is a type of energy medicine (a class of alternative medicine that also includes reiki and acupuncture). In a typical Therapeutic Touch session, the practitioner places his or her hands over the patient's body (usually without making contact) and performs a series of techniques meant to re-balance the patient's energy. By improving the patient's energy flow, Therapeutic Touch is thought to stimulate healing and help treat a range of health conditions.
Uses for Therapeutic Touch
Proponents of Therapeutic Touch claim that the therapy can aid in treatment of the following health problems:
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- chronic pain
- multiple sclerosis
- thyroid problems
In many cases, Therapeutic Touch is used in combination with standard medical care. Practiced in hospitals across the United States, Therapeutic Touch is often performed by nurses.
Health Benefits of Therapeutic Touch
To date, there is limited scientific support for the health benefits of Therapeutic Touch. Here's a look at several findings from the available research:
Therapeutic Touch may be of some benefit to people with dementia, according to a study published in 2009. The study involved 65 nursing-home residents with dementia, each of whom was assigned to one of three groups: The first group received Therapeutic Touch with contact on the neck and shoulders, delivered twice daily for 3 days; the second group received a sham version of Therapeutic Touch treatment; and the third group received routine care only. Analyzing their findings, researchers determined that Therapeutic Touch led to a greater reduction in restlessness (compared to the sham treatment and routine care).
2) Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
In a 2001 study of 21 people with carpal tunnel syndrome, researchers found that Therapeutic Touch was no more effective than placebo in treating the condition. Study participants underwent treatment with either Therapeutic Touch or a sham version of the therapy once weekly for six consecutive weeks.
3) Biopsy-Related Anxiety and Pain
For a 2007 study of 82 women undergoing biopsies for suspicious breast lesions, researchers assigned subjects to receive either Therapeutic Touch or a sham treatment (administered during the biopsy). Results showed that Therapeutic Touch was no more effective than the sham treatment in terms of its effects on discomfort or anxiety.
Therapeutic Touch may help ease the pain of osteoarthritis, according to a small study published in 1998. For the study, researchers assigned 25 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee to treatment with Therapeutic Touch, sham Therapeutic Touch, or standard care. Compared to subjects who received the sham treatment or standard care, members of the Therapeutic Touch group experienced significantly greater decreases in pain and dysfunction.
Using Therapeutic Touch
Although Therapeutic Touch is generally considered safe, some individuals may experience certain side effects (such as restlessness and irritability) when undergoing the treatment. If you're considering the use of Therapeutic Touch for any health condition, make sure to consult your physician before beginning treatment.
American Cancer Society. "Therapeutic Touch".
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