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Airing Pain 48: Nursing Beyond Drugs

How nurs­es can use relax­ation ther­a­py, mas­sage, acupunc­ture and empa­thy to help peo­ple man­age their pain

[For a Welsh lan­guage tran­script please click here.]

This edi­tion has been fund­ed by the Big Lot­tery Fund’s Awards for All Pro­gramme in Wales.

‘Imag­ine how it feels if you’re in pain and peo­ple won’t help you.’ Like oth­er health­care pro­fes­sion­als, nurs­es can some­times strug­gle to under­stand the per­spec­tive of peo­ple liv­ing with pain. At a train­ing day for stu­dent nurs­es devot­ed to chron­ic pain, Gareth Par­sons impress­es on his audi­ence the impor­tance of believ­ing the patient and deliv­ers some uncom­fort­able truths based on his research about the frus­tra­tions peo­ple with pain often have of health­care pro­fes­sion­als: ‘you are the problem!’

Equipped with the train­ing they receive, hope­ful­ly this group of nurs­es will instead be part of the solu­tion. The first step is under­stand­ing that chron­ic pain is a con­di­tion in its own right – this way the nurs­es will be aware of the prob­lems of treat­ing chron­ic pain as if it were acute (for exam­ple, exces­sive use of opi­oids) and be able to help tack­le anx­i­ety and fear.

With a bet­ter sense of the nature of chron­ic pain, nurs­es will be less like­ly to ‘throw drugs’ at the prob­lem, Owe­na Simp­son says. She guides the stu­dent nurs­es in a ses­sion of relax­ation ther­a­py, while Maria Par­ry teach­es the stu­dents basic mas­sage tech­niques and recalls her own expe­ri­ences of how a patient of hers was able to over­come insom­nia thanks to mas­sage ther­a­py. Gareth Par­sons fin­ish­es the ses­sion with an acupunc­ture les­son and explains why this treat­ment may be more effec­tive for some patients than for others.

Issues cov­ered in this pro­gramme include: Med­ica­tion, alter­na­tive ther­a­py, relax­ation ther­a­py, mas­sage, acupunc­ture, edu­cat­ing health­care pro­fes­sion­als, insom­nia, over-pre­scrip­tion, side effects, noci­cep­tive pain, patient voice, patient expe­ri­ence, pal­lia­tive care and inflammation.


Con­trib­u­tors:

  • Gareth Par­sons, Senior Lec­tur­er in Adult Nurs­ing, Uni­ver­si­ty of Glamorgan
  • Maria Par­ry, Senior Lec­tur­er in Pal­lia­tive Care, Uni­ver­si­ty of Glamorgan
  • Owe­na Simp­son, Senior Lec­tur­er in Adult Nurs­ing, Uni­ver­si­ty of Glamorgan.

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