Non Pharmacological Approaches

Non-pharmacological approaches may contribute to effective analgesia and are often well accepted by patients. Some simple measures which are sometimes recommended (eg, hot or cold packs) have not been well studied. Complementary therapies for pain are often sought out by patients, and require evaluation for their potential role in the palliative care setting. The role of non-pharmacological approaches to pain management is evolving, and some non-pharmacological and complementary therapies have an increasingly important contribution to make to holistic patient care alongside analgesics. There is evidence to support the use of patient education, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), relaxation, and music. Importantly, however, some approaches have not been shown to be of benefit, including TENS, reflexology and acupuncture. For this reason, research on non-pharmacological approaches to pain management is very important, so that patients are provided with information that ensures them the most effective options for treating their pain. It is essential that palliative care patients with anything more than mild pain who are using complementary therapies should also be treated with appropriate analgesics and adjuvants, using an evidence-based approach.