Effect of Relaxation Exercises on Controlling Postoperative Pain

Sacide Yildizeli Topcu, RN, MSc; Ummu Yildiz Findik, RN, MSc, PhD


Pain Manag Nurs. 2012;13(1):11-17. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


This study examines the effect of relaxation exercises on controlling postoperative pain in patients who have undergone upper abdominal surgery. This is a cross-sectional and crossover study conducted on 60 patients who underwent upper abdominal surgery between October 2006 and June 2007, in the General Surgery Department, Health and Research Practice Center, Trakya University, Edirne, Turkey. We assessed the patients' pain levels before and after the relaxation exercises. Patients' personal information forms were used to collect data, and pain levels were determined using the verbal pain scale. We used the Wilcoxon T test, nonparametric Spearman correlation analysis, and nominal by interval eta analysis to assess the data, percentage, and frequency analyses. Pain levels were found to be reduced after the relaxation exercises compared with the levels before the relaxation exercises (z = −5.497; p < .001). Relaxation exercises, a nonpharmacologic method, are effective in reducing postoperative pain and should therefore be included in a regimen to control postoperative pain in patients who have undergone upper abdominal surgery.


Upper abdominal surgery is a painful surgical procedure. Inadequate pain control in these patients can lead to many complications, reduction of participation in treatment and care, patient dissatisfaction, longer hospitalization, and increased costs (Allred et al., 2010,Özyuvacı, Altan, & Yücel, 2003,Shang 2003; Valente, 2006). Although there is no standard method that can be applied to all patients' pain control, pain management should begin with a preventive approach to pain, and both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic methods should be used together for the most effective pain control (Allred et al., 2010,Badır and Aslan, 2003). As a nonpharmacologic method, relaxation exercise helps to reduce postoperative pain and anxiety and thereby prevent complications (Yücel, 2000). The use of relaxation exercises in the postoperative period will increase patient satisfaction with nursing care as well as providing effective pain control.


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