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Complementary Therapy After Surgery

Jun 28, 2008
Going under the knife is a worrying time for anyone. Surgery places stresses on the body physically, emotionally and mentally and we all want to recover from a procedure as quickly as possible so we can get on with our life. Complementary therapies are becoming a popular way to assist with post-operative recovery by helping with pain relief and worry. Complementary therapy has proved effective in dealing with the stress, tension, pain, immobility and anxiety that can impair healing and slow down recovery times.

Recent studies have shown how complementary therapy can help pain levels and stress for patients who have undergone heart surgery. Complementary therapy doesn't replace medications that post-operative heart patients require but it does work in addition to conventional treatment to help the whole person. One such complementary therapy program consisted of massage therapy to ease pain and tension. Many people have found massage to be more beneficial to their pain relief than traditional medications as it can pinpoint pain faster and also doesn't have the nasty side-effects of drugs (such as drowsiness and constipation).

Guided imagery was used to help patients visualise their recovery and music therapy was used to aid relaxation before and after the procedure. Finally, stress education for both patient and family eased anxiety about their time in hospital and the rehabilitation process.

Patients that used osteopathic complementary therapy after knee and hip surgery were found to have improved mobility after their procedure (particularly when climbing stairs and walking). Osteopathy uses physical manipulation techniques to correct the body's structure, ease restricted movement and re-establish normal circulation. If the body can function properly as quickly as possible after surgery there is a greater chance of recovering faster.

A complementary therapy such as acupuncture has been found to decrease pain levels after certain surgical procedures. Acupuncture uses ultra fine needles that stimulate deep sensory nerves in the body to cause a chemical release of endorphins and other substances. Once released in the body, these substances help with pain and assist healing.

Hypnosis is another popular complementary therapy being utilised in post operative care. Hypnotherapy has aided relaxation, discomfort and fatigue in breast cancer surgery patients. By modifying the experience of pain in the mind using imagery and positive suggestion, hypnosis can help to reduce its effects and alleviate suffering. With pain dulled down, the body's natural ability to heal is improved.

One complementary therapy that is proving effective before and after surgery is homeopathy. Homeopathy uses animal and plant extracts, minerals and salts to help the body heal itself by increasing natural energy. Homeopathic remedies can be used for anxiety before an operation and to decrease the physical symptoms associated after a surgical procedure. Remedies do not interfere with surgery or medications but should be taken with the surgeon's knowledge. Homeopathic remedies have been found to reduce bruising, swelling, bleeding and tissue damage after surgery. Certain remedies may help with the disorientation, nausea and weakness felt from the anaesthetic.

An integrated approach of conventional medicine and complementary therapy may help ease the fear before an operation and decrease the pain and discomfort afterwards as well as helping you to cope with the stress of recovering.
About the Author
Health expert Thomas Pretty looks into how complementary therapy can help patients recover from surgical procedures.
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