A recently published study indicates that massage therapy may be an effective non-pharmacological strategy to treat pain for hospitalized patients.
Titled Effect of Integrative Medicine Services on Pain for Hospitalized Patients at an Academic Health Center, the research involved 578 patients 18 years and older checked in between October 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017 at two Mayo Clinics (Methodist Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital) in Rochester, Minnesota.
The objective was to determine whether integrative medicine services, namely massage therapy and acupuncture, could assist with pain management post-treatment. Additionally, researchers also tracked the services requested and rendered in the period of study.
Researchers used the Numeric Pain Rating Scale to measure the inpatients’ pain levels before and after their chosen service. In the course of the study, licensed practitioners provided 1220 integrative services, with 87.2% of the services being massage therapy and 9.1% being acupuncture. The remaining 3.7% requested relaxation techniques. Those included guided imagery, meditation, mindfulness practices, paced breathing and visualization.
Patients reported significant changes in pain scores with massage therapy and acupuncture, with over a third of them falling asleep during their therapy service. On the other hand, those who requested for relaxation techniques reported little to no significant changes.
The staggering number of inpatients that fell asleep demonstrates the effectiveness of additional services, like acupuncture and massage therapy, in pain management. Thus, integrated services could decrease the need for opioids for pain relief.
It also reveals that the services can help patients reach a state of relaxation that may in turn speed up the recovery process. Sleep deprivation often exacerbates pain and other symptoms.