Non-pharmacological Interventions for Pain

Specialties Pain


Those that know me know I like to throw out a "challenge" question every now and then to get people thinking.

This time the question is:

What non-pharmacological methods have you used to help your patients cope with pain?? These are not intended to replace pain interventions but maybe just help the patient with the sudden move or assist with a cough or even just to cope while you get the injection for them.

I am thinking here in terms of deep breathing, relaxation, guided imagery even heat and cold.

What do you find beneficial and what is useless.


629 Posts

As far as (what I think you're talking about) prior to injections I have a line I repeat.

I tell my patients:

Lets take deep breathes. Lets make our heart beat slowly. Think of a happy place. All while slowly, lightly patting their back. This is one of my favorite coping methods to use during a painful, highly stressful situation. I've found it work quite well. (ofcourse, it always helps that I'm so cute when I say it)


Specializes in CCU (Coronary Care); Clinical Research.

I work in CCU, we often have post-surgical patients and post PTCA patients that usually have to lie fairly straight for up to six hours...

The methods that I use most are slow, deep breathing, warm blankets, repositioning, occassionally imagery...I usually find that warm blankets and repositioning work best for my stent patients...I usually only use deep breathing if the patient is hyperventilating from anxiety or pain. Thankfully we are faily free to give frequent pain meds--po and iv and we have started using oxycontin bid for our post op hearts after extubation which has helped a lot (especially if they can have toradol as well...)--we just cover them with breakthrough pain meds as needed. I am also a big fan of xanex, even though it is not a pain med, I feel that it helps keep a patient less stressed/more relaxed and it seems to me that these patients have less pain (though I usually give the xanex with a pain med). I hate having painful patients, however, I do tell patients that while we do try our best to keep their pain under control--they just had major surgery so when we are moving them, coughing, deep breathing, etc that it is going to hurt. I think that if the patient knows to expect pain at least a little they can be mentally prepared for it- and then we do the best we can with pain control medication...I usually find a happy medium (well I try to anyway.) :p


56 Posts

Hands on care works best for me. I try to make it a back rub, but a foot rub works well if turning would only increase the pain or is contraindicated. Soft, geniune verbal sympathy is needed too. Unless I am super busy, I never give a pain med and then just walk away.

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