The effects of therapeutic touch on patients with osteoarthritis of the knee

J Fam Pract. 1998 Oct;47(4):271-7.


Background: The purpose of this study was to determine if therapeutic touch, an alternative medicine modality, is effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.

Methods: A single-blinded randomized control trial was conducted in a family practice center of a community hospital family practice residency program in Pennsylvania. The patients were between the ages of 40 and 80, had been given a diagnosis of osteoarthritis of at least one knee, had not had knee replacement, and had no other connective tissue disease. The patients were randomized to therapeutic touch, mock therapeutic touch, or standard care. The main outcome measures were pain and its impact, general well-being, and health status measured by standardized, validated instruments, as well as the qualitative measurement of a Depth interview.

Results: Twenty-five patients completed the study. The treatment group had significantly decreased pain and improved function as compared with the placebo and control groups. The qualitative Depth interview confirmed this result.

Conclusion: Despite the small numbers, significant differences were found in improvement in function and pain for patients receiving therapeutic touch. A larger study is needed to confirm these results. Alternative therapies can neither be accepted nor rejected without being subjected to the scientific method.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Therapeutic Touch*
  • Treatment Outcome