Listed in Issue 110


ROYKULCHAROEN and GOOD, Surgical Nursing Department, College of Nursing, The Thai Red Cross Society, Pathumwan, Bangkok, Thailand., have conducted a trial of systematic relaxation to relieve post-operative pain.


Pain after surgery can lead to prolonged hospitalization, complications, and delayed recovery if it is not treated. As opioid painkillers have side-effects and are not tolerated by everyone, it is important to explore complementary strategies. This study aimed to examine the effects of a systematic method of relaxing the body on the sensory and affective components of postoperative pain, anxiety, and analgesic medication intake.


In this randomized controlled trial,102 adults undergoing abdominal surgery at a large hospital in Thailand were randomly allocated to relaxation and control group. Systematic relaxation was used for 15 minutes during recovery from the first ambulation after surgery. Pain was measured with 100 mm Visual Analogue Sensation and Distress of Pain Scales before and after the intervention. State anxiety was measured before surgery and after the intervention; opioid intake was recorded 6 hours later.


The relaxation group had less post-test sensation and distress of pain (26 and 25 mm less, respectively) than the control group (p = 0.001). Relaxation did not result in significantly less anxiety or 6-hour opioid intake. However, group differences in state anxiety were in the expected direction, and fewer participants in the relaxation group requested opioids. Nearly all reported that systematic relaxation reduced their pain and increased their sense of control.


Substantial reductions in the sensation and distress of pain were found when postoperative patients used systematic relaxation. The authors recommend the use of systematic relaxation with postoperative patients in addition to analgesic medication.


Roykulcharoen V, Good M. Systematic relaxation to relieve postoperative pain. Journal of Advanced Nursing 48 (2): 140-148, Oct 2004.


The above study from Bangkok, Thailand demonstrates that relaxation techniques can be an effective technique which can significantly relieve post-operative pain.

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