Do you give back-rubs and foot baths to your patients? - page 5

by silt 9,249 Views | 50 Comments

As a rule, if I'm not too tired, I always give backrubs and take care of my patients feet and legs. I do this on all of them. Others only wash their face and hands and that constitutes a bath. I am sometimes not done until... Read More


  1. 0
    I gave a backrub to one patient on a stepdown unit who had chronic low back pain along with her acute surgical pain in her abdomen. She used oral opioids at home, so what we were giving her for the acute pain wasn't doing much for her back. Neither was being stuck in an uncomfortable bed or chair all day except for trips to the pot. So when she asked if I could just rub her back, I was happy to do so. It was great to see how it could relieve her pain when all our fancy drugs could not without sedating her too much (that gate theory we learned about in pharmacology actually works!). It doesn't come up much in the PACU, but I was glad to have the time to help that patient in that situation. I can see how it would be weird in a different situation, though.
  2. 0
    No, no time to do more than meds. I wish, but no.
  3. 1
    In CNA class, we are taught backrub as part of our skills. It's required for partial bedbath, and we do it on a mannequin. One of our plastic residents has a stage 1 ulcer on his/her (this week, it's a she) sacrum. Of course, we would avoid that ulcer, but we were taught that massage stimulates the circulation, and is an excellent way to prevent ulcers, not just a nice thing for our residents (in NY, the chances are good that we'll be working in LTC).&nbsp; There is a prescribed pattern (from the base of the spine, UP, double circle double circle, down. That's done 3X, then UP, double circle <em>double circle </em>(middle of back), down<em></em>, 3X, then UP, double circle, <em>double circle,</em> <u>double circle </u>(small of back) down 3X, done! It takes about 3-5 minutes.<br><br>I was heartbroken to be told by our instructor that in the RW, we will not likely have time for massaging our residents. I have a dear friend who suffered a brain injury and is in a nursing home, and when I visit him, I massage his back. It's does wonders for him. He is somewhat confused, and tells me that the staff don't have time to talk to him, and think he's too dirty to touch (that's how he interprets being told to give himself a partial bed bath). He has neck pain as a result of his TBI, but the injury doesn't involve his spinal chord, and there's no reason not to give him basic massage (and rub in a little Bio-Freeze!) except under-staffing. I am very nervous myself about managing my time once I'm out on the floor, so I understand why nurses and CNAs don't, for the most part, massage their patient/residents.<br><br>BUT, like the massage therapist, I too am disturbed by the ppl who find it off-putting. It's obviously highly beneficial to the person's healing. If you have a traumatic background that interferes with your ability to touch your patients, perhaps therapy would do both you and your patients good.<br><br>And if you DON'T have a traumatic background, and find yourself with some time, I hope you get over it and give your folks a back rub! Just tell them it's part of their skin care.<br><br> I hope I don't sound too mouthy as a new poster and CNA student, but I've also been hospitalized a number of times. I'd hate to think that some of my grinding anxiety and pain could have been mitigated but my nurse, after emptying my drains, was freaked out by the idea of touching my back.<br><br>
    nursel56 likes this.
  4. 0
    Quote from imintrouble
    Due to a complicated personal history, I simply can't rub backs.
    Neither can I stand for someone to come up behind me and rub my shoulders.
    We all bring a ton of baggage with us when we enter any arena of our lives. Sometimes we can ignore the baggage and sometimes we can't.

    It's probably better to be attuned to your own feelings than ignore them.
  5. 0
    Quote from PennyWise
    Nope.

    Might be me being paranoid because I'm a male nurse but.............too much opportunity for............misunderstandings. Heck, I've had women accuse me of trying to "sneak a peak" because they happened to be on the bedside commode when I answered their call light. Not going to give someone like this any ammo.

    I've heard patients complain that nurses don't do this anymore but..........meh, they'll get over it. Or they can hire someone for that.
    I think it would depend on who you're giving back rubs to. I don't think everyone would make accusations.
    I think there would be some male patients who might value therapeutic touch for reasons of health and healing.
    Also, I don't think all woman have the same distrust of male caregivers.
  6. 0
    Quote from not.done.yet
    No, I don't. If the patient needed it, I would but honestly it feels a bit personal to me. I would not be comfortable with it. I had a patient who desperately wanted me to spend a lot of time scratching his back and it made me feel really awkward. I am sure that is just me, but I have pretty strict boundaries regarding personal space. I was not raised in a touchy family and have never been a hugger. I do try to touch my patient's hand or arm when I care for them and I do make a lot of eye contact, so it isn't an issue of avoiding intimacy, just physical intimacy. To me that is just too personal. I am, however, a very new nurse. It is likely I will get past it when the situation calls for it, but just as a means of pampering? No. I don't.
    On some patients, if they ask for a back scratch, what helps them is to soak a wash cloth in warm water and use some cream and wash their back and rub cream in. Then they will leave you alone for the rest of the shift. This takes away the itch.
  7. 2
    Quote from pollycare
    , I too am disturbed by the ppl who find it off-putting. It's obviously highly beneficial to the person's healing. If you have a traumatic background that interferes with your ability to touch your patients, perhaps therapy would do both you and your patients good.<br><br>And if you DON'T have a traumatic background, and find yourself with some time, I hope you get over it and give your folks a back rub! Just tell them it's part of their skin care.<br><br> I hope I don't sound too mouthy as a new poster and CNA student, but I've also been hospitalized a number of times. I'd hate to think that some of my grinding anxiety and pain could have been mitigated but my nurse, after emptying my drains, was freaked out by the idea of touching my back.<br><br>
    Why would this disturb you? Everyone has their personal space boundaries. It doesn't mean much of anything except it plain makes them uncomfortable. That should be respected. You don't have to have a traumatic event in your past feel awkward or uncomfortable with giving someone a massage.

    As far as hoping those with a traumatic history "get over it and give their folks a back rub"....don't even know what to say to that. It's really off putting though.
    Last edit by aem31 on Oct 6, '12 : Reason: spelling
    anotherone and DizzyLizzyNurse like this.
  8. 0
    "As far as hoping those with a traumatic history "get over it and give their folks a back rub"....don't even know what to say to that. It's really off putting though. "

    First, if you go back and read my post, you'll see that I was talking about those who DON'T have a traumatic history just getting over their reserve and doing something that will benefit their patient. I suggested therapy for trauma victims. It isn't a cure-all, but it could very well help both the traumatized nurse and those who unwittingly upset her, like her co-workers.

    I am now post-internship, and while still a newbie/twerp, I did have a chance to begin on what will be a long period of acquiring hands-on experience 'just getting over' doing scary things involving the bodies of sick, vulnerable people. And while I haven't nearly the experience you, and most of the people at allnurses.com undoubtedly have in caregiving, I've put in plenty of time, unfortunately, as both caregiver to family and as a hospital patient myself. Most of the nurses and CNAs I've met were so great that they inspired me to go into this field to begin with, but we all know some people who shouldn't have gone into this sort of caregiving.(The nurse who wished us a cheery "Happy New Year!" as we huddled around my father's deathbed; the nurse who told me "You did NOT faint!" after she disbelieved my protests that I was seeing stars and I woke up on the floor; the CNA who yelled, "She said she wanted only coffee, and that's all she's going to get!" and threw the resident's sandwich into the garbage). It's one thing, which I entirely understand, to not have time to do a back massage, but knowing the benefits to the patient, if you have the luxury of a little time, who says "I can't do this--it's just not me?" You're telling me that you're willing to administer a SS enema but can't rub a little lotion on somebody's back?

    I guess if you don't understand why I'm disturbed by this, I don't really know what to say either.
  9. 1
    When I was in the ICU I would bathe and lotion up my vented pts. If they look like they had good hygiene before hand I'd make the extra effort to keep that up, but sometimes they are too unstable for us to do anything other than foley and oral care. Now in the ER there's no way. I do however try to give some physical comfort by touching shoulders and arms. Sometimes we are so busy in the ER the patient doesn't get any contact other than IV insertion and being moved for tests.
    pollycare likes this.
  10. 1
    It is really too bad that there almost never enough time or staff to give pts. or residents intangible but effective care like massage regularly. I'd certainly not expect it in a busy ER, with somebody seizing on the next gurney etc! I'm just really saddened that LTC is so understaffed. It's a scandal, really.

    A touch on the shoulder does so much to comfort, though, and hardly takes any time at all.
    Altra likes this.


Top