Reiki Massage and Pain Management

Back pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, cancer – there is an astounding number of patients suffering from some condition resulting in chronic pain. In fact according to Anthony H. Wheeler. MD, a specialist in pain and orthopedic neurology writing for WebMD, Approximately 80% of Americans experience Lower Back Pain (LBP) during their lifetime.

With the many associated problems of pain medications, both opiates and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) it is no wonder that there is a growing population seeking Complimentary and Alternative (CAM) treatments for pain management. One such CAM treatment that is becoming increasingly popular is Reiki Massage.

Reiki is part of the Asian healing tradition, in this case the Japanese, rather than the Chinese. The two ancient traditions are very similar in approach and methodology. The “ki” in Reiki represents the Japanese word “Ki” which is the same word as the TCM concept of “Qi”. In both traditions “Ki” or “Qi” is vital force or life energy. Reiki massage is a “laying on of hands” technique that stimulates the proper flow of vital energy – much like related TCM modalities such as acupuncture, Qi gong, and Tui Na.

Understanding Reiki and Its Principles

While there may yet to have been conducted a comprehensive and indisputable Clinical Trial examining the effect of Reiki massage on chronic pain, there have been a number of studies that seem to indicate its effectiveness, beyond a mere placebo effect. An early study looking at the effectiveness of Reiki for pain management looked at 20 Volunteers suffering from pain at over 50 different body sites for a variety of reasons, including cancer. In this study a certified second-degree Reiki therapist provided all Reiki treatments. Pain was measured using two devices typically used to determine pain in such trials. Both instruments showed a highly significant reduction in pain following the Reiki treatment.

Western science has yet to provide a definitive mechanism of action for the relief experienced by chronic pain sufferers who have received Reiki treatments, yet such relief has been documented in this and several other trials since. The National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine recognizes Reiki as a form of energy medicine worthy of further study.

While clinical study continues, anecdotal evidence of effectiveness abounds. Cancer researchers have reported that patients who have received Reiki energy healing therapy experienced longer periods of stabilization, and relief from pain, and anxiety.


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