Music ‘can reduce chronic pain’

While I doubt the IRS is going to let us claim iPods as med­ical equip­ment for tax deduc­tions any time soon, it’s well worth exper­i­ment­ing to see what music soothes each of us.

From BBC News via the Net-Gold list:

Research has con­firmed lis­ten­ing to music can have a sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive impact on per­cep­tion of chron­ic pain.

US researchers test­ed the effect of music on 60 patients who had endured years of chron­ic pain.

Those who lis­tened to music report­ed a cut in pain lev­els of up to 21%, and in asso­ci­at­ed depres­sion of up to 25%, com­pared to those who did not listen.

The Jour­nal of Advanced Nurs­ing study also found music helped peo­ple feel less dis­abled by their condition.

The patients who took part in the study were recruit­ed from pain and chi­ro­prac­tic clinics.

They had been suf­fer­ing from con­di­tions such osteoarthri­tis, disc prob­lems and rheuma­toid arthri­tis for an aver­age of six-and-a-half years.

Most said the pain affect­ed more than one part of their body, and was continuous.

Some lis­tened to music on a head­set for an hour every day for a week, while the rest did not.

Among those who lis­tened to music, half were able to choose their favourite selec­tions, the rest had to pick from a list of five relax­ing tapes pro­vid­ed by the researchers.

Con­sis­tent improvements

Researcher Dr San­dra Siedlec­ki, of the Cleve­land Clin­ic Foun­da­tion, said: “Our results show that lis­ten­ing to music had a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant effect on the two exper­i­men­tal groups, reduc­ing pain, depres­sion and dis­abil­i­ty and increas­ing feel­ings of power.

“There were some small dif­fer­ences between the two music groups, but they both showed con­sis­tent improve­ments in each cat­e­go­ry when com­pared to the con­trol group.

“Non-malig­nant pain remains a major health prob­lem and suf­fer­ers con­tin­ue to report high lev­els of unre­lieved pain despite using medication.

“So any­thing that can pro­vide relief is to be welcomed.”

Pro­fes­sor Mar­i­on Good, who also worked on the study, said: “Lis­ten­ing to music has already been shown to pro­mote a num­ber of pos­i­tive ben­e­fits and this research adds to the grow­ing body of evi­dence that it has an impor­tant role to play in mod­ern healthcare.”

Pre­vi­ous research pub­lished in the same jour­nal found lis­ten­ing to 45 min­utes of soft music before going to bed can improve sleep by more than a third.

Com­plex phenomenon

Dr Cathy Stan­nard, hon­orary sec­re­tary of the British Pain Soci­ety, said oth­er stud­ies had shown music could have a pos­i­tive impact on the per­cep­tion of pain.

But she said the effects tend­ed to be rel­a­tive­ly small, and there was doubt as to whether they were any­thing oth­er than very short term.

“The per­cep­tion of pain is very com­pli­cat­ed, and is influ­enced by fac­tors such as emo­tion, expe­ri­ence and mood,” she said.

“If music makes you feel relaxed and chilled out then one might expect it would affect our per­cep­tion of pain.”

Dr Stan­nard said it was pos­si­ble that music sim­ply pro­vid­ed a dis­trac­tion which stopped peo­ple con­cen­trat­ing on their pain.

She said it was not sur­pris­ing that drugs which had a spe­cif­ic action on the body often had a lim­it­ed effect on a phe­nom­e­non as com­plex as pain.

“We need to start to think out­side the box,” she said.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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