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48 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k s e p t e m b e r / o c t o b e r 2 0 1 5 SOMATIC RESEARCH education Massage Therapy for Cardiac Surgery Pain By Jerrilyn Cambron According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 51.4 million Americans have inpatient surgery each year, with the majority focusing on heart procedures such as cardiac catheterizations, angioplasty, or bypass surgery. 1 Postsurgical pain management is essential for comfort and recovery. Narcotic sedatives may relieve the pain, but they can also lead to respiratory suppression, nausea, and constipation. Massage therapy is an adjunct therapy that might relieve some of the postsurgical pain while patients are in acute and critical care units. In a recent Canadian study, 40 subjects were randomized to hand massage versus hand-holding for pain after cardiac inpatient surgery. 2 The use of hand massage was chosen due to the ease of access for the massage, as well as the likely patient comfort regardless of patient body position. Potential subjects were approached the day before the surgery to determine their interest and eligibility. Inclusion criteria for the study were: 18 years of age and older, able to speak French or English, elective cardiac surgery requiring sternal incision (such as bypass surgery or valve replacement), ejection fraction of 35 percent or more, and ability to answer questions and self-report pain.

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