In 2010, almost 400 000 patients underwent coronary artery bypass procedures in the United States. Despite advances in pain management, pain continues to be an important postoperative problem. Sources of pain include surgical positioning, incisions, retraction of chest wall tissues, dissection of major chest wall muscles, electrocautery, and insertion of catheters and drains—especially chest tubes. As a result, cardiac surgery patients often experience musculoskeletal pain in the neck, back, and shoulders.2,3  Yet the pathway to recovery presents more than physical challenges. Cardiac surgery patients face emotional distress, fear of death, uncertainty, and depressive symptoms.

Healing after major surgery may be aided by the integration of the best that Eastern and Western medicine have to offer. Massage is a broad array of techniques that involve “manual soft-tissue manipulation that includes holding, causing movement, or applying pressure to the...

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