Saturday, July 19, 2008

Controlling Surgical Pain with Foot and Hand Massage – Study Review

A study published by Hsiao-Lan Wang, R.N., and Juanita F. Keck, R.N. in Pain Management Nursing, June 2004, (Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 59-65), showed that twenty minutes of foot and hand massage “significantly reduced both pain intensity and distress resulting from incisional pain on the first postoperative day.” Each of the study participants were recovering from gastrointestinal, gynecological, urological, head, neck or plastic surgery. They all received pain medication one to four hours prior to the massage intervention, and each had asked for something to relieve incisional pain. Before, and immediately after the 20-minute massage, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure were measured, and pain intensity and distress scores were evaluated.

The participants of the referenced study experienced significant reductions in both pain intensity and distress after the 20-minute foot and hand massage. Heart rate and respiratory rates decreased after the same therapist provided petrissage, kneading and friction for five minutes on each hand and each foot, for a total of 20 minutes.

The authors concluded: “Foot and hand massage appears to be an effective, inexpensive, low-risk, flexible, easily applied strategy for postoperative pain management.”

Though the study is not new, it seems alternative therapies are still overlooked, and studies perhaps forgotten, by even the most thoughtful and diligent practitioners of medicine. Healthcare administrators, when considering staff development in hospital and outpatient surgery settings, might take time to explore non-traditional options for patient care. Massage therapists and Nurses can provide much toward patient comfort and healing by providing and/or teaching massage techniques to family members. Improved patient outcomes include post-operative pain control, without excessive use of risky narcotics, shorter patient recovery times and fewer complications following surgery from patient mobilization.

As patient advocates, perhaps physicians, nurses and healthcare administrators should “step out of the box” and take a fresh look at proven alternative treatment options for patients in all types of healthcare settings. In this instance, a simple hand and foot massage sounds like a delightful alternative method for helping patients manage pain.

Resource: Foot and hand massage as an intervention for postoperative pain

Related: Massage Provides Pain Relief Following Surgery