Non-Pharmacological Pain Management in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: Managing neonatal pain without drugs
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Premature infants hospitalized after birth are exposed to repeated painful procedures as part of their routine medical care. Early neonatal exposure to unmanaged pain has been linked to numerous negative long-term outcomes, such as the development of pain hypersensitivity, detrimental psychological symptomology, and altered neurodevelopment. These findings emphasize the crucial role of pain management in neonatal care. The aim of this article is to give an overview of evidence-based non-pharmacological pain management techniques for hospitalized neonates. Research supporting the effectiveness of various proximal, distal, and procedural pain management methods in neonates will be presented. Additionally, understanding the larger biopsychosocial context of the infant that underpins the mechanisms of these pain management methods is essential. Therefore, two important models that inform non-pharmacological approaches to infant pain management (DIAPR-R [The Development of Infant Acute Pain Responding-Revised], Attachment Theory) will be discussed.