Massage Therapy to Reduce Postoperative Pain in Spinal Surgery Patients

Dunivan, Kevin, Nursing Practice - School of Nursing, University of Virginia
Deivert, Mary, School of Nursing, University of Virginia

Purpose of the study: The purpose of this study is to assess whether the use of Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) specifically massage therapy, will reduce pain and opioid use in post-operative spinal surgery patients in an acute care neurosurgical unit, as well as improve overall patient satisfaction.
Research Question/hypothesis: Does the use of Complementary Alternative Medicine, specifically massage therapy, compared to usual care, reduce patient’s pain perception, the amount of opioid medications used and improve patient satisfaction in postoperative spinal surgery patients?
Setting, sample: The study was conducted on an acute care Neurosurgical unit in a large academic medical center in central Virginia. The study sample of 17 participants included English speaking post-operative spinal surgery patients, who were 18 years or older, admitted directly from PACU to the neurosurgical unit.
Measures: Using the electronic Medication Administration Record (eMAR), narcotic administration was tracked during the three- day postoperative period. Pain was assessed using a numeric pain scale. Patient satisfaction was assessed using questions taken from the HCAHPS Quality Assurance Guidelines.
Method: This study employed a pre-test/post-test design with a convenience sample.
Procedures: Pain was assessed in those patients who consented to receive massage in a progress note before and after the intervention by the massage therapist. The assigned RN assessed the pain score before and after opioid administration per unit standards. Pain scores of the patients who received massage as well as patients who did not receive massage were collected by review of the electronic medical record. In addition, to assess overall satisfaction with pain management, all patients participating in the study completed a 6- question survey
Results: There was a statistically significant difference in reported pain scores before and after massage therapy on each postoperative day, as well as overall patient satisfaction with pain management in the massage group. However, there was no significant difference in the number of opioid doses given between the massage group and UC group, or total mean pain scores.
Nursing implications: This study evaluated whether massage therapy reduced postoperative pain and improved patient satisfaction following spinal surgery. While there was a significant difference in pain scores compared to before massage and after massage on each postoperative day, there was not a significant difference in the mean pain scores nor opioid use between the massage group and the no massage group. This study found that patients who received massage therapy reported higher patient satisfaction than those who did not receive massage. Further study is needed to better determine how alternative therapies such as massage can be incorporated into holistic approaches to pain management.

DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
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