The effect of healing touch on the pain and mobility of persons with osteoarthritis: a feasibility study

Geriatr Nurs. 2013 Jul-Aug;34(4):314-22. doi: 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2013.05.003. Epub 2013 Jul 5.


The aims of this pilot study were to investigate the effects of Healing Touch (HT) on the pain level, joint function, mobility, and depression in persons with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee joint(s). A randomized controlled trial using a repeated measures design was used. Cognitively intact persons (institutionalized and community) with a diagnosis of OA of the knee joint(s) received either HT sessions three times per week for 6 weeks (n = 12) or weekly friendly visits (FV) (n = 7). The HT sessions were delivered by a team of two nurses certified as HT practitioners and the FV was conducted by a nurse. All subjects continued to receive their standard care including the methods they had been using to relieve their joint pain. The two groups were similar regarding demographic variables, number of knees affected, co-morbidities, pain medications used and outcome variables at baseline. Two pain outcome measures (intensity and life interference) produced significant interaction effects. Two joint outcome measures (extension and extensor lag) also produced significant interaction effects. Furthermore, the HT group demonstrated significant improvements in 9 of the 12 outcome variables (75%) while no significant improvements occurred in the FV group. The HT group exhibited sustained effects (3 weeks post treatments) in three outcome variables. The reduction in joint pain and improvement in joint function suggest that biofield therapies could be effective non-pharmacological adjuncts to treatment of OA.

Keywords: Healing touch; Osteoarthritis; Pain.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / complications
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology*
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Therapeutic Touch*