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Effects of Aromatherapy in Treating Postoperative Pain

Abstract

The use of aromatherapy as a complementary medical practice dates back long in history. The use of essential oils in therapeutic activities became popular in the 11th century with the invention of the distillation process. Today the technique continues to draw interest from different stakeholders owing to its perceived efficacy. Though debate continues to range on its applicability in the medical field, its advocates argue that when used alongside other conventional therapies, it results in rapid healing. The annotated bibliography in this paper focuses on the use of aromatherapy in treating postoperative pain. The bibliography builds on literature by authors as well as actual studies carried out in hospital settings to determine the efficacy of aromatherapy in treating post-operative pain.

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Introduction

Aromatherapy is an alternative medical technique that employs volatile plant extracts and myriad other aromatics to modify a patient’s mind, health, or general cognitive functioning. The use of the technique remains controversial with its efficacy a subject of debate. However, some studies have indicated that the method has therapeutic potential. This paper is an annotated bibliography of literature and some studies carried out to determine the efficacy of essential oils in treating postoperative pain.

Use of Aromatherapy

Buckle, J. (2003). Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

This book is logically presented to help health professionals intending to use aromatherapy in clinical applications to supplement their practice. The book’s content covers the needs of all health professionals. The book focuses on demystifying aromatherapy. It explains how essential oils can be incorporated into healthcare. The book is divided into two segments, Overview and Clinical Use. The overview section gives background information on aromatherapy including its historical use, source of essential oils, how to obtain them, their mechanism of working, and how the body assimilates them. The section also describes the psychology of smell.

The clinical use section dwells on the issues of safety, toxicology, and contraindications. The book gives detailed coverage of the application of aromatherapy in nursing and physiotherapy in addressing problems of infection, nausea, pain, insomnia, and stress. The use of aromatherapy in the clinical section of the book is well outlined according to units in a medical facility setting.

The book includes published research, the author’s own clinical experience, and points of view of her students’ experiences. The author has the best qualifications to author the book as she has an immense wealth of knowledge and experience spanning over 25 years. The book has also been critiqued, reviewed, and edited by many other knowledgeable professionals. Therefore, the book is a resourceful material in learning the effects of aromatherapy in treating postoperative pain.

Evidence of Aromatherapy Efficacy

Maddocks-Jennings, W. & Wilkinson, J.M. (2004). Aromatherapy Practice in Nursing: Literature Review. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 48(1), 93–103.

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This article gives analytical information related to the aspect of aromatherapy as used in the nursing profession as well as a critical review of the evidence supporting the use of aromatherapy. The study reports that according to information gathered during the 1980s and 1990s only a few proofs support the efficiency of aromatherapy in the nursing practice. The article identifies enhanced relaxation as the only positive result obtained from aromatherapy use. Therefore, the research recommends balancing its use with negative potential risks, such as allergic reactions and related safety concerns. According to the article, there is enormous potential for more collaboration among stakeholders in the healthcare sector to explore the application of essential oils in therapy.

The study is published in the highly esteemed Journal of Advanced Nursing and borrows heavily from references in peer-reviewed articles retrieved from highly reliable databases, such as Medline, CINAHL, MANTIS, and EBSCO Host. Therefore, this research article is a credible source of information regarding the effects of aromatherapy in treating postoperative pain.

Pain Management Using Complementary Therapies

Adams, R., White, B. & Beckett, C. (2010). The Effects of Massage Therapy on Pain Management in the Acute Care Setting. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, 3(1), 4-11.

This article reports on research that was carried out aiming to determine the impacts of massage therapy on managing pain in the acute care setting. The paper identifies pain management as a major issue in most health facilities and asserts the need to use alternative therapies, such as massage therapy for pain management. The study involves the evaluation of inpatient pain levels following massage therapy sessions. The massage sessions were carried out on patients in medical, surgical, and obstetric departments. It was found that the mean pain level subsided significantly following massage therapy. The study concludes that massage therapy has a generally positive impact on pain relief, relaxation, emotional wellbeing, and the overall healing process.

The research article was published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, which is a peer-reviewed journal that includes only studies with proven credibility in terms of data collection and analysis. Therefore, the article is critical in understanding the usefulness of complementary therapeutic techniques. Such techniques include massage and aroma therapies among others that are gaining popularity in treating post-operative pain.

Study Based Evaluation of Aromatherapy

Kim, J.T., et al. (2006). Evaluation of Aromatherapy in Treating Postoperative Pain: Pilot Study. Pain Practice, 6 (4), 273–277.

This paper is a report on a study carried out to evaluate aromatherapy in treating postoperative pain. The study specifically studied the analgesic efficacy of lavender oil on a cohort of 50 patients following breast surgery. Half of the patients were given supplemental oxygen combined with two drops of lavender, an essential oil known to have analgesic properties. The control group was introduced only to oxygen supplements. Indicators for pain relief were recorded on a 0-10 scale. The postoperative aromatherapy technique using lavender oil did not trigger any considerable influence on pain scores. However, the patients subjected to it reported achieving a higher level of satisfaction in pain control in comparison to the control group.

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The study was published in the Pain Practice Journal, which is a peer-reviewed journal that only publishes studies with proven credibility in terms of data collection and analysis. As such, the results and discussion provided by the researchers concerning this study are reliable and can be used as a credible reference in explaining the effects of aromatherapy in treating postoperative pain.

Effect of Massage Therapy in Psychiatric Setting

Garner, B. et al. (2008). Pilot Study Evaluating the Effect of Massage Therapy on Stress, Anxiety and Aggression in a Young Adult Psychiatric Inpatient Unit. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 42(5), pp. 414-422.

This article constitutes a report on research that was conducted to analyze the effectiveness associated with relaxation massage therapy programs. The study evaluated massage therapy efficacy on a young adult psychiatric inpatient unit in relieving stress, aggression, and anxiety among the patients. The article reports that the study revealed the beneficial effects of massage therapy on the reduction of stress and anxiety among patients in psychiatric facilities.

The article, extracted from the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry gives results and an analytical discussion on the efficacy of massage therapy. The article provides an appropriate knowledge base concerning the use of therapies, such as massage. In one way or another, this compares to aromatherapy and other therapies influencing sensory functioning. The article extracts most of its literature from many other peer-reviewed journal articles as references. Therefore, the study can be regarded as a reliable source that gives accurate information concerning the use of complementary therapies such as massage and aromatherapy.

Side Effects of Massage Therapy (Insight into Complementary Therapies)

Cambron, J.A., Dexheimer, J., Coe, P. & Swenson, R. (2007). Side-Effects of Massage Therapy: A Cross-Sectional Study of 100 Clients. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13 (8), 793–796.

This article offers an insight into the negative side of complementary therapies concerning massage therapy. Based on a study that was aimed to determine the negative influence of massage therapy, the effects arising from a massage session were classified in a cross-sectional format. The results from the participants indicated that the therapy resulted in some minor discomfort following a massage session, but the overall positive side effects still prevailed.

The results of this study were published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, which is a peer-reviewed journal. It contains studies with credible ratings. The study was the first of its kind to analyze the negative side effects of complementary therapies, such as massage therapy. Therefore, more elaborate studies could be carried out to give a deeper analysis of such therapies. Nevertheless, this study serves as an authentic source of information when examining the negative side of complementary therapies. Therefore, it can help one design a similar study this time to determine the negative effects of aromatherapy for application in the treatment of postoperative pain.

Modifications in Conventional Complementary Therapies (M technique)

Roberts, K. & Campbell, H. (2011). Using the M Technique as Therapy for Patients at the End of Life: Two Case Studies. International Journal of Palliative Nursing. 17(3), 114-8.

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This article describes the working of a complementary therapy technique termed as ‘M Technique’. This entails the use of manual touch to induce a therapeutic response in patients experiencing pain. Based on case studies carried out by a renowned complementary therapist, Dr. Jane Buckle, the technique is said to be highly effective and has been described as a “physical meditation”. The studies focused on relieving patient symptoms in palliative and end-life stages. The technique is said to be good complementary therapy to mainstream therapies.

The description of the mechanism of working and reported results in this article were published in a peer-reviewed International Journal of Palliative Nursing, a testimony to the credibility of the article information. An in-depth understanding of this technique, as discussed, can act as a basis for research into other complementary therapeutic techniques. This would include modification of the conventional therapeutic techniques, such as aromatherapy, to improve the efficacy of such therapies in treating postoperative pain.

References

Adams, R., White, B. & Beckett, C. (2010). The Effects of Massage Therapy on Pain Management in the Acute Care Setting. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, 3(1), 4-11.

Buckle, J. (2003). Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

Cambron, J.A., Dexheimer, J., Coe, P. & Swenson, R. (2007). Side-Effects of Massage Therapy: A Cross-Sectional Study of 100 Clients. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,13 (8), 793–796.

Garner, B. et al. (2008). Pilot Study Evaluating the Effect of Massage Therapy on Stress, Anxiety and Aggression in a Young Adult Psychiatric Inpatient Unit. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 42(5), 414-422.

Kim, J.T., et al (2006). Evaluation of Aromatherapy in Treating Postoperative Pain: Pilot Study. Pain Practice, 6 (4), 273–277.

Maddocks-Jennings, W. & Wilkinson, J.M. (2004). Aromatherapy Practice in Nursing: Literature Review. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 48(1), 93–103.

Roberts, K. & Campbell, H. (2011). Using the M Technique as Therapy for Patients at the End of Life: Two Case Studies. International Journal of Palliative Nursing,17(3), 114-118.

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