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Fırat Üniversitesi Sağlık Bilimleri Tıp Dergisi
2008, Cilt 22, Sayı 2, Sayfa(lar) 113-118
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Non-Pharmacological Pain Management In Newborn
1Bozok University School for Health Sciences, Yozgat-TURKEY
2Mersin University School for Health Sciences, Mersin-TURKEY
Keywords: Newborn; pain, nonpharmacological practice, evidence-based practice
Pain is a complex and multi-dimensional experience. Pain is an experience which affects all individuals child or adult in physical, emotional, and social ways and which brings fear, anxiety, and depression with it. For this reason, it is important to determine and evaluate the pain conditions of newborns urgently. Acceptable nursery approaches can be developed by examining physiological and behavioral variables, metabolic parameters, and hormone levels at pain. All health professionals are responsible for examining, removing, or reducing pain. The analgesics used for reducing the perception of pain are more effective when they are used with non- pharmacological techniques. The proof referenced application examples (kangaroo care, breast feeding, lactation, sucrose, position change, music, etc.) used by health professional independently is discussed in this article.
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  • Summary
  • Introduction
  • References
  • Introduction
    Pain is a complex and multi-dimensional fact that men experience. Wall & Melzack define pain as an individual experience which is influenced by psychological and socio-cultural factors changing according to the load of tissue damage and the kind of damage, and which is defined by the individual himself1. In addition pain is an experience which affects all individuals child or adult in physical, emotional, and social ways and which brings fear, anxiety, and depression with it. For this reason, it is important to determine and evaluate the pain conditions of newborns urgently2.

    It has been many years since it was believed that infant do not feel pain because of their immature nervous systems. We are known that fetal nervous system development begins very early in gestation at the time. Nerve fibers that innervate bone and skin and form the peripheral nervous system begin migration from the neural crest at about 7 weeks gestation. This migration process is complete by 20 weeks gestation. By 28-30 weeks, the density of nociceptive nerve endings is equal to that of adults2-9.

    Neonates in a neonatal intensive care unit are exposed to a high number of painful procedures. Neonatal intensive care involves a high number of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures which are associated with pain for the neonates concerned. For example, described an average of 134 painful procedures within the first two weeks of life for each of 124 preterm neonates with a gestational age of 27–31 weeks. In a study covering 54 neonates, more than 3000 painful interventions were documented during their entire hospitalization period, of which 74% involved preterm infants under 31 weeks gestation10. Most of the painful interventions included capillary blood sampling by heel stick, followed by endotracheal suctioning.

    When evaluating pain in newborns the most important problem to be addressed is that it is not a verbal response to pain. Newborns have a repertory for announcing their pain that is nonverbal. These are like those shown in Table I.

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    Table 1: Responses of Infants to pain3,11-14

    There are various factors in newborns' perception of pain and their formation of a response. These factors are the infant's gestation, gender, state of wakefulness, type of painful stimulus, length and general health status, type of birth, severity of illness, past experiences, individual differences and coping skills11-15.

    To evaluate newborns' sense of pain, behavioral and physiologic variables can be more beneficial in the evaluation of short term pain, and hormone levels and metabolic parameters can be more beneficial in the evaluation of pain that lasts for hours or days11,13. Studies directed at the measurement and evaluations of pain in newborns are increasing the national and international studies researching the development of and the validity and reliability of these measures.

    The severity of pain cannot be measured objectively like body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. For this reason it is necessary for pain to be well defined to be able to check for it. Various methods have been developed to help in the determination of pain severity and to overcome the problem of definition. These are given in Table II.

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    Table 2: Pain Assessment Scales In Infants14

    Pain Management of Newborn
    The goal in newborn pain management is to help lessen the pain and to help the infant cope with pain. For this all health care professionals are responsible for evaluating pain, and to the extent possible, for alleviating and decreasing pain1,16.

    Newborns experience pain during frequent invasive procedures. Many pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic methods are used to decrease pain during invasive procedures1,13,17,18.

    All members of the team are responsible for alleviating pain with pharmacologic methods. The nurse, as a member of the team, needs to know how to control pain with pharmacologic methods and needs to share this information with other members of the team in an effective manner1,17.

    All interventions that are done to control pain without the use of medications are called non-pharmacologic interventions. Non-pharmacologic techniques that are used to decrease the perception of pain increase the effectiveness of medications that are used together with analgesics14.

    Non-pharmacologic Methods
    Positioning: It has been determined that changing the position of a newborn in pain provides significant comfort to the infant. The prone position decreases pain and stress after invasive procedures and provides stability14,19. Although Grunau et al. (2004) were unable to confirm the effect of the prone position. The evidence for the effect of “positioning” remains inconclusive20.

    Olfactory and multisensorial stimulation: In accordance with study results which showed a stress-relieving effect of the smell of breast milk, Goubet et al. (2003) tested the hypothesis that a familiar odour might be effective in relieving distress associated with painful stimuli in preterm infants21. Bellieni et al. (2001) specify that the assessment of the intervention of “multisensorial stimulation” was not blinded, which is to be criticized as a clear bias and calls into question the efficacy of this non-pharmacological intervention as described22.

    Kangaroo care and maternal touch: “Kangaroo care” involves the neonate being taken out of the incubator and laid on the bare skin of the mother or father3,23,24. The neonate is covered with towels so that there is no loss of body temperature. A study of 74 preterm neonates older than 32 weeks gestation confirmed that “kangaroo care” produces a reduction in pain response, using the “Premature Infant Pain Profile” as a validated pain assessment tool23. One meta-analysis described the greatest pain-relieving effect occurring with “maternal calming” rather than with “swaddling” and “positioning”, but the effect dropped off more rapidly in comparison with the other two interventions, where it was sustained over 4–5 min25

    Massage; Rhythmic and repetitive movements are thought to have an effect on decreasing pain by calming and decreasing crying26.

    Non-nutritive and nutritive sucking: Non-nutritive sucking” refers to the placement of a pacifier in an infant’s mouth to promote sucking behaviour without breast or formula milk to provide nutrition. As a result of “non-nutritive sucking”, they become calmer and more attentive, and a reduction in crying was observed10.The use of a sucking has been determined to increase the release of serotonin which directly or indirectly decreases the transmission of painful stimuli. ““Non-nutritive sucking” on a pacifier or a cotton wool stick also resulted in a significant reduction in the pulse rate and seems to be highly effective10.

    Sweet substances: It has been determined that sugar or other sweet substances alone or with a pacifier decreases pain caused by painful procedures in newborns7,24. A research was obtained by Huang et al. (2004), who found in their study of 32 preterm infants that swaddling was even effective, as measured by the “Premature Infant Pain Profile”, for infants younger than 31 weeks10. Swaddling is described as having an effect on oxygen saturation for all age groups10.

    Mother's milk: Mother's milk has been seen to have an analgesic effect that decreases pain in newborns3,27.

    Decreasing environmental stimuli: Stimuli such as bright lights and noise may be the cause of excessive stimulation of newborns. For this reason decreasing environmental stimuli can calm an infant and indirectly decrease pain11.

    Music: Regardless of the type of music, a positive effect on the pain response was invariably recorded, such as the regulation and reduction of the pulse rate, a more rapid reversion of physiological parameters to the initial values, a rise in oxygen saturation and a reduction in the excitation state12,26. “Music” decreased the pain response particularly when combined with non-nutritive sucking shown by the “Neonatal Infant Pain Scale”10.

    Facilitated tucking: The researches describe facilitated tucking as an effective pain-relieving intervention. “Facilitated tucking” leads to a significant reduction in the pulse rate10. The study used the “Premature Infant Pain Profile” as an outcome measure of pain. Among a group of 40 incubated and ventilated preterm neonates between 23 and 32 weeks gestation, “facilitated tucking” during endotracheal suctioning achieved significant pain relief10.

    There is a lot of evidence in the literature about methods of pain management in newborns. Some examples of these studies are shown in Table III.

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    Table 3: The use of evidence based applications in pain alleviation of infants8,18,24,27-34.

    Responsibility Of Nurses In The Management Of Newborn Pain
    For effective pain management it is important for pain that newborns experience to be recognized correctly and in a timely manner. For nurses to have an effective role in the management of pain in newborns and infants, the evaluation, treatment and choice of appropriate interventions for pain begins with a care plan. A multidisciplinary team approach is necessary for interventions in the treatment of newborn pain to be at the desired level. In this context nurses need to

    * Give consideration to evidence based practice and follow studies conducted in this area
    ­* Ensure there is individualized developmental care
    ­* Without forgetting that only one physiologic change can be a sign of pain, assume that the infant may be in pain when there are physiologic changes
    ­* Continually evaluate for and compare changes that develop with pain
    ­* Distinguish between signs of pain and signs of agitation and irritation
    ­* Administer effective and timely pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic pain management strategies and continually evaluate the care plan
    ­* By giving treatment to infants in the same room at the same time, prevent the infants from being continually woken up
    ­* Cooperate with parents at every phase of infant care and having the participate in care
    ­* Correct wrong beliefs and ideas about pain that patient's relatives or other team members have and make changes in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit to decrease stimuli such as noise and light as much as possible1,3,10-12,14.

    This article shows the view that the non-pharmacological methods described are to some degree beneficial to neonates who undergo painful procedures.

    In conclusion, pain in newborns needs to be correctly recognized for effective pain management with a multidisciplinary team approach and factors that cause pain need to be decreased as much as possible. In painful situations the infant's condition needs to be evaluated and a plan of care needs to be determined using pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic methods.

    In addition it is recommended that health care personnel who work with newborns implement evidence based practices on the subject of the effect of pain on newborn development, the signs of pain and pain management in newborns.

  • Top
  • Summary
  • Introduction
  • References
  • References

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  • Introduction
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