Effect of a Brief Massage on Pain, Anxiety, and Satisfaction With Pain Management in Postoperative Orthopaedic Patients

Orthop Nurs. 2015 Jul-Aug;34(4):227-34. doi: 10.1097/NOR.0000000000000163.


Background: The majority of massage therapy studies have evaluated 20- to 45-minute interventions in nonsurgical patients. Studies are needed to evaluate the effects of a brief massage intervention that would be more clinically feasible for bedside clinicians to administer as an adjunct to pharmacologic pain management in acutely ill surgical patients.

Purpose: To evaluate the impact of a brief massage intervention in conjunction with analgesic administration on pain, anxiety, and satisfaction with pain management in postoperative orthopaedic inpatients.

Methods: A convenience sample of postoperative orthopaedic patients was studied during two therapeutic pain treatments with an oral analgesic medication. A pretest, posttest, randomized, controlled trial study design, with crossover of subjects, was used to evaluate the effect of a 5-minute hand and arm massage at the time of analgesic administration. Each patient received both treatments (analgesic administration alone [control]; analgesic administration with massage) during two sequential episodes of postoperative pain. Prior to administration of the analgesic medication, participants rated their level of pain and anxiety with valid and reliable tools. Immediately after analgesic administration, a study investigator provided the first, randomly assigned treatment. Pain and anxiety were rated by the participant 5 and 45 minutes after medication administration. Satisfaction with pain management was also rated at the 45-minute time point. Study procedures were repeated for the participant's next requirement for analgesic medication, with the participant receiving the other randomly assigned treatment. Analysis of variance was used to determine whether pain, anxiety, and/or satisfaction with pain management differed between the two treatment groups and/or if treatment order was a significant factor. The level of significance for all tests was set at p < .05.

Results: Twenty-five postoperative patients were studied during two sequential episodes of pain, which required analgesic medication administration (N = 25 analgesic alone; N = 25 analgesic with massage). Patient ages ranged from 32 to 86 years (average ±SD = 61.2 ± 11.5 years). Pain and anxiety scores after medication administration decreased in both groups, with no significant differences found between the analgesic alone or analgesic with massage treatments (p > .05). Patient satisfaction with pain management was higher for pain treatment with massage than medication only (F = 6.8, df = 46, p = .012).

Conclusion: The addition of a 5-minute massage treatment at the time of analgesic administration significantly increased patient satisfaction with pain management.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Humans
  • Massage*
  • Orthopedics*
  • Pain Management*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Postoperative Period*
  • Treatment Outcome