Treating chronic pain with external qigong

An external qigong healer uses gentle touch or non-contact treatment to reach the client’s life energy (qi) and bring it to balance.

It was used along with pharmacotherapy by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota.

First, the details.

  • 50 people with pain lasting longer than 3 months and a pain score of at least 3 on 0-10 numeric analogue scale were randomly assigned to a treatment group for 4 weeks.
    • External qigong treatment weekly 30-minute sessions
    • Control: Equivalent attention time
  • Each patient had come to a qigong treatment center on their own.
  • Most had experienced pain for longer than 5 years (66%).
  • The researchers measured intensity of pain by a 10-cm visual analogue scale.
  • Participants were followed-up 8 weeks after the end of treatment.
  • The most frequent concomitant diagnoses were multiple conditions (26%), osteoarthritis (18%), and low back pain (12%).
  • Most patients were also receiving other treatments (74%); and none previously had external qigong treatment.

And, the results.

  • Compared to the control group, external qigong was associated with a significant decrease in pain intensity at the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th weeks of treatment.
  • At week 8, these differences in were not statistically significant.

The bottom line?

In a group of people who were looking for an external qigong healer to help alleviate their pain, adding qigong to ongoing treatment had a positive short-term effect.

Prof. Ernst reviewed external qigong for painful conditions and concluded, “Evidence for the effectiveness of external qigong is encouraging, though further studies are warranted.”

What does external qigong (pronounced chee-kung) look like? YouTube presents an example, here.

A comparison of external vs internal qigong is here.

8/2/10 20:54 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.