Can Music Reduce Pain?
There are many types of music therapy available, and different research suggesting that types of music can help calm you, reduce stress, and even, yes, even reduce pain. A study conducted by Garza-Villarreal and colleagues in the Feb, 2013, Frontiers of Psychology examined the impact of music on both pain and overall function (movement).Can music improve your pain and functioning with fibromyalgia? #fibro ? Click To Tweet
Functional mobility is basically the ability to move around in a “normal” way; this is often restricted for those of us with fibromyalgia, as a result of pain.
Past research has indicated that functional mobility often improves as a result of pain relief (analgesia), so they sought to confirm this finding as it relates specifically to fibromyalgia.
Garza-Villarreal et al sought to find:
a) if self-chosen, slow, pleasant music (regardless of style) works as an analgesic for those with fibromyalgia – related pain.
b) if the same music increases functional mobility for fibromyalgia patients
c) if changes in functional mobility are related to pain and analgesia
22 fibromyalgia patients participated in this study; all patients were chosen on their ability to forgo pain medications for the time of the study. Patients were excluded for a variety of reasons including inability to walk, obesity, and other issues that would impact performance and similarity within the sample.
Participants were asked for info on their favorite musicians to help the experimenters choose music that would fit their taste. Specific songs were chosen based on low beats per minute (BPM). The experiment was completed in three parts:
- Each participant was asked to listen to music for 10 minutes (usually about 3 songs)
- A washout section required the participants to watch a documentary video (they were able to choose from four options)
- Participants were asked to listen to pink noise for 10 minutes (pink noise is supposed to be neutral noise, similar to white noise).
Some participants listened to the music segment first, while others listened to the pink noise segment first. After listening to each music segment, patients were asked to rate their pain on two levels (pain intensity, pain unpleasantness), and were tested for functional mobility
Functional mobility was tested via timed 3 minute walk following each music segment. Patients were asked to get up and walk at the word “Go”, they walked in a straight line then turned around and returned to the start; They were not told that they were being timed, or the purpose of the study.
- When patients reported less pain unpleasantness they had higher functional mobility.
- The older the patient was the more analgesic effect the music had (for both pain intensity and pain unpleasantness).
Other studies have suggested that familiar music has a more analgesic effect than unfamiliar music; and that nature sounds have just as much analgesic effect as unfamiliar music. Unfortunately, the sample size on this particular study is rather small; therefore providing little power to back up the results. But, plenty of other studies have supported the idea that music can act as an analgesic. Given the impact that stress has on pain within fibromyalgia, it would also make sense that any music that reduces stress would help decrease the pain.
Do you find that music helps reduce your pain? Does it help get you moving easier? What makes you feel better, fast or slow music?
I find that music can have an analgesic effect and get me moving a little better. Fast or slow really just depends on the day and how I’m feeling at the time. I can’t really think well with fast music on, though.
- Effects of Music and Vibration on fibromyalgia (a study)
- Distraction as Pain Reliever: 10 ways to distract yourself from pain
- Can Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Help fibromyalgia?
- Effects of stress and relaxation on fibromyalgia
Garza-Villarreal, E. A., Wilson, A. D., Vase, L., Brattico, E., Barrios, F. A., Jensen, T. S., & … Vuust, P. (2014). Music reduces pain and increases functional mobility in fibromyalgia. Frontiers In Psychology, 5doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00090