Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2012

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education PATHOLOGY PERSPECTIVES | BODY AWARENESS | FUNCTIONAL ANATOMY | SOMATIC RESEARCH Massage Improves Postoperative Experience By Diana L. Thompson Patient experience is commonly referred to as the fifth vital sign. Persistent suffering is at the crux of the term patient experience.1 Hospitals dependent on patient satisfaction surveys for funding and ratings are trying a variety of interventions to improve the patient's experience and relieve postoperative pain and distress. According to recent studies, massage therapy safely and effectively improves patients' postoperative experience. Massage is becoming a cost-effective, noninvasive approach to "meaningful relief." In addition, findings demonstrate massage improves patient- caregiver relations, enhancing the therapeutic relationship and the sense of connection with loved ones, both critical for optimal recovery.2 Commonly, inpatient and outpatient surgical patients experience postoperative symptoms that typical pharmacological interventions alone may not fully address. Pain, distress, anxiety, poor sleep quality, nausea, and fatigue are among these symptoms. Routinely, patients report mild to moderate pain even with the use of pain medications.3 More importantly, the unpleasantness of the pain persists, even though the level of pain is lessened. Reducing recovery time and postoperative complications are critical for cost savings and to ensure long-term success of surgery. Ka-Kit Hui, MD, FACP, the director and founder of the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine, a hospital that routinely uses massage therapy for most patients, from providing postoperative care to treating migraines, believes in using physical methods to help stimulate the body to correct its own chemical flow. "Muscle spasm is not normal," Hui says. "When you take care of that, other conditions can be helped."4 If massage therapy can improve patient outcomes early in the healing process, the patient's long-term healing is positively affected. 52 massage & bodywork november/december 2012

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