Foot Massage Reduces Pain for ICU Patients

By Staff
[Body Talk]

A recent study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that foot massage can ease the pain of patients in intensive care units (ICUs).  

The study’s authors say pain is a common stressor in ICUs, often left untreated due to the patient’s low levels of consciousness, sedative drugs, and mechanical ventilation. When left unchecked, pain and anxiety affect the nervous system resulting in changes in the patient’s vital signs, myocardial ischemia, mental disorders and delirium, and sleep quality. Pain can also cause ICU patients to fight their ventilator, remove catheters, and become more agitated. Delayed wound healing, prolonged patient stays in the ICU, and ultimate illness and increased mortality are other factors influenced by unaddressed pain in ICU patients.

In the controlled study, 75 subjects were divided into three groups: foot massage provided by a nurse, foot massage provided by the patient’s family, and a control group that did not receive massage. In the massage (intervention) groups, Swedish massage was performed for 5 minutes on each foot, once a day for six days. Pain scores were examined before the intervention, immediately after the intervention, and one week following the intervention. Results found that both massage groups showed a significant reduction in pain as compared to the control group.

Read the full study at Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.