Pain, whether chronic or acute, can negatively affect many aspects of our lives. It can increase stress, make it difficult to sleep well, impact mood, decrease mobility and functioning, and increase anxiety. Chronic pain can also contribute to depression and other mental health disorders.
Medication for pain, while effective for many people, can have side effects that range from undesirable to dangerous. That’s one reason non-pharmaceutical treatments that help manage pain are growing in popularity. Reiki is one treatment for pain management that doesn’t involve medication or surgery.
What is Reiki?
Reiki is an alternative medicine technique that began in ancient Japan. It’s sometimes called biofield therapy. Reiki uses healing energy that is channeled from the Reiki therapist, also called a practitioner or healer, to the patient with the goal of reducing stress, pain, and fatigue while enhancing energy. The theory behind Reiki is that it opens an energy channel between the practitioner and the patient so the transfer of healing energy can flow, restoring the patient both mentally and physically.
Reiki practitioners use their hands to transfer energy, either moving their hands just over the body without touching or by lightly touching the body. This low- or no-touch therapy can offer significant benefits with little to no negative side effects.
The emotional aspect of pain
Pain is not simply a physical condition. There is an emotional aspect to pain that can’t be ignored. And when people address the emotional side of pain, it can help increase pain tolerance and reduce pain perception. The Journal Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine (AAEM) published an article titled “Psychological Aspect of Pain.” The authors noted a significant relationship between depression and pain symptoms and between pain and suicidal thoughts. They explained that patients with long-term pain have increased levels of anxiety and depression, and that there is a reverse relationship – people with more severe anxiety and depression tend to experience an increase in pain problems.
It is often difficult to know whether chronic pain leads to mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, or whether anxiety and depression lead to increased pain (or both). But there is a relationship. And studies have also shown that addressing the emotional and mental health aspect of pain can have significant impact upon the perception of pain and the tolerance for pain.
How can Reiki help decrease pain perception?
Reiki may help decrease pain perception by healing the emotional aspect of pain. Reiki is meant to resolve emotional distress by allowing healing energy to flow freely throughout the body, which results in relaxation and reduced pain and tension throughout the body. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety, which can decrease pain perception as well.
Studies have shown the effectiveness of Reiki for pain relief
The International Journal of Behavioral Medicine published an article reviewing 66 clinical trials about biofield therapies, such as Reiki. Julie Kusiak, MA is a Reiki practitioner at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, working within the integrative medicine department. She talked about the article, saying that review of different studies showed strong evidence that biofield therapies help reduce pain intensity. Kusiak also pointed to a review of 24 studies that found touch therapies to successfully reduce pain. The touch therapy that had the most success was Reiki.
Kusiak noted that these studies showed Reiki treatments decreased anxiety and pain, reduced fatigue, improved quality of life, and even helped reduce depression in people during a variety of medical treatments, including:
- Abdominal hysterectomy
- Cancer treatment
One of the benefits of Reiki is that it can be performed on people who are in significant pain and are unable to be touched or to tolerate touch.
Pain Management at Beaumont
Beaumont's Centers for Pain Medicine use the latest technology and pain management procedures to help patients with all forms of pain. We provide holistic treatment, individually tailored to meet each person’s pain management needs. Using the latest technology and often incorporating alternative therapy and physical therapy in our pain management programs, we offer interventions to reduce pain severity, improve quality of life, and increase physical functioning.
Make an appointment
If you’re experiencing any type of pain, we can help. Pain management specialists at Beaumont are committed to delivering the highest quality of integrated care.
To schedule an appointment, call Beaumont Integrative Medicine at 248-964-9200.