Does Music Unlock Pain Med Potential?

New report shows patients experience less pain when pairing music therapy with traditional medication.

Music Therapy / Photo:
Music Therapy / Photo:

A November 4th Reuters article says music can complement traditional pain medications to combat acute or chronic pain related to conditions such as cancer. Jin Hyung Lee of the Ewha Women’s University in Seoul reviewed 97 randomized trials that examined patients’ self-reported pain intensity, emotional distress from pain, vital signs, and amount of pain medication taken. Some trials included interactions with music therapists, while others examined the effects of music medicine, which involves exposure to “prerecorded music experiences.”

On average, patients listened to 38 minutes of the music, most of the time their choice of classical, easy listening, new age, slow jazz, or soft rock. Analysis showed that patients with music intervention rated their pain level about one point lower on a 1 to 10 scale compared to those without music. Heart rate, blood pressure and respiration all measured lower with some music groups in some of the studies. “Music stimulates additional senses other than pain receptors, which attracts patients’ attention, and relieves stress and anxiety with its soothing quality,” Lee said. He also noted that music should be used to complement treatment, not as an alternative.

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