Medical massage at the foot.

Five minutes of massage on each hand or each foot resulted in a significant decrease in anxiety among patients who were about to receive phacoemulsification cataract surgery, according to recent research.

The study, “Effects of Extremity Massage on Preoperative Anxiety: A Three-Arm Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial on Phacoemulsification Candidates,” involved 90 women about to undergo phacoemulsification cataract surgery.

These subjects were randomly assigned to either the hand massage group, the foot massage group or the placebo group. Participants in the massage groups received five minutes of massage on each hand or each foot. Participants in the placebo group received five minutes of rubbing without any pressure on each hand. The massage and placebo interventions occurred in a surgical waiting room about 10 minutes prior to cataract surgery.

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The same practitioner performed all hand and foot massages, as well as the placebo hand rubbing. According the researchers, these sessions took place in private room with the subject supine on a bed. For the massage groups, the practitioner used techniques such as petrissage, kneading and friction.

The main outcome measure in this study was anxiety, which was assessed before and after the 10-minute intervention period. The researchers used a visual analog scale to evaluate anxiety, along with measurements of physiological indicators of anxiety, such as heart rate, respiratory rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Results of the research revealed a significant decrease in anxiety and heart rate among  subjects who received hand or foot massage compared to those who received the placebo hand rubbing. There was no significant difference between hand massage and foot massage in terms of these improvements.

“In this trial, we aimed to compare the effects of a 10-minute hand or foot massage on preoperative anxiety in cataract surgery candidates,” state the study’s authors. “Based on the findings, we could not find any significant difference between hand and foot massage in any of the measured outcomes, showing the beneficial effects of both interventions on preoperative anxiety.”

Authors: Moloud Farmahini Farahani, Masoomeh Noruzi Zamenjani, Morteza Nasiri, Soheila Shamsikhani, Zahra Purfarzad and Mehdi Harorani.

Sources: Department of Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Arak University of Medical Sciences, Arak, Iran; Student Research Committee, Department of Operating Room Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran; and Department of Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Hamadan, Iran. Originally published online in February 2020 in the Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing.