SDS Pain Management-Know the definitions of complementary therapies

A wide range of therapies can be used for pain management within a same-day surgery setting, says Carolyn Bartlett, RN, MS, staff nurse on the same-day surgical unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Therapeutic and healing touch, Reiki, and music therapy are especially easy to offer because they don't require special space and can be performed during the brief time the patient is within the surgery program setting, she says.

When you are setting up a program to offer complementary therapy, be sure to include different types of therapy that will appeal to a variety of patients, says Bartlett. General definitions of some of the most common types of therapy are:

- Reiki, therapeutic, and healing touch. Energy healing techniques in which practitioners move their hands over the patient's body in a very specific way. All three of these modalities are used to move and balance the body's energy. While there are training programs for all three modalities, only Reiki and healing touch offer certification.

- Reflexology. A practice that applies pressure to areas of the foot, hand, or ear that correspond to other parts of the body. Massaging these areas helps the body relax and return to its natural balanced state.

- Acupressure. A technique developed by the Chinese in which pressure is applied to certain points in the body to relieve pain.

- Sound therapy. The use of music, nature sounds, or musical tones to relax the body and decrease pain.

- Imagery. The practice of guiding patients to develop a scene in their minds to facilitate healing. Sounds and smells may be used to enhance imagery.

- Relaxation and meditation. A variety of techniques to get the patient into an altered state of awareness. Deep breathing, relaxing each muscle group in order from head to toe, and repeating one word over and over are a few techniques used.

- Aromatherapy. The use of essential oils as a natural treatment through inhalation, massage, or baths.