Therapeutic touch (TT) is a modern derivative of the laying on of hands that involves touching with the intent to help or heal. This study investigated the effects of TT on tension headache pain in comparison with a placebo simulation of TT. Sixty volunteer subjects with tension headaches were randomly divided into treatment and placebo groups. The McGill-Melzack Pain Questionnaire was used to measure headache pain levels before each intervention, immediately afterward, and 4 hours later. A Wilcoxon signed rank test for differences indicated that 90% of the subjects exposed to TT experienced a sustained reduction in headache pain, p < .0001. An average 70% pain reduction was sustained over the 4 hours following TT, which was twice the average pain reduction following the placebo touch. Using a Wilcoxon rank sum test, this was statistically significant, p < .01. Study results indicated that TT may have potential beyond a placebo effect in the treatment of tension headache pain.
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