Researchers studying pain management for people who had been electrocuted found massage therapy alleviated pain in 75 percent of patients—13 percentage points more than the pain relief effected by nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).

The retrospective hospital chart review was conducted at among electrically injured patients discharged from the outpatient burn clinic of a Canadian rehabilitation hospital from mid-1999 through mid-2008, according to an abstract published on

The majority of patients were men (90.9 percent), most injuries occurred at work (98.2 percent), and both low-voltage and high-voltage injuries were represented.

Before rehabilitation, the most common medications were opioids (61.8 percent), relieving pain in 82.4 percent, followed by acetaminophen (47.3 percent) alleviating pain in 84.6 percent.

Heat treatment was the most common nonpharmacologic modality (20.0 percent) relieving pain in 81.8 percent, followed by massage therapy (14.5 percent) alleviating pain in 75.0 percent.

During the rehabilitation program, antidepressants were the most common medication (74.5 percent), relieving pain in 22.0 percent, followed by nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (61.8 percent), alleviating pain in 70.6 percent. Massage therapy was the most common nonpharmacologic modality (60.0 percent), alleviating pain in 75.8 percent, and then cognitive behavioral therapy (54.5 percent), alleviating pain in 40.0 percent.

“Pain in electrically injured patients remains an important issue and should continue to be addressed in a multimodal way,” the researchers wrote. “It is hoped that this study will guide us to design future interventions for pain control after electrical injury.”

The research is running in the Journal of Burn Care & Research.

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