Alternative Medicine Provides Relief From Post-Surgical Pain

Patients are becoming increasingly sophisticated about their treatments and many are looking for non-invasive, non-prescriptive pain relief. Hospitals are slowly catching on. The Journal of Patient Safety published a study in which physicians used non-traditional therapies to relieve post-surgical pain and found relief for as many of 50 percent of their patients. 


Roughly 80 percent of patients report moderate to severe pain levels after surgery,” says Gregory Plotnikoff, M.D., one of the study’s authors and medical director of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. “We struggle to provide effective pain control while trying to avoid the adverse effects of opioid medications.” 

The study included 1,837 patients who suffered from a mixture of ailments. The patients rated their pain verbally on a zero-to-ten scale before and after treatments. The treatments included:acupuncture, acupressure, massage therapy, healing touch, music therapy, aromatherapy, and reflexology. 

Future research will focus on defining appropriate intervention doses, duration of pain relief, and developing profiles of which patients are most likely to respond to nonpharmacologic treatments.

Lori Knutson, RN, BSN, HN-BC, executive director of the George Institute said, “I think we will find that integrative approaches to pain management during the hospital stay will improve patient satisfaction and outcomes, and we will see cost savings from patients using fewer drugs and experiencing fewer adverse events,”

The study, “The Impact of Integrative Medicine on Pain Management in a Tertiary Care Hospital” was published March 5, 2010, in the Journal of Patient Safety. 

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