Music Therapy Shows Promise For Soothing Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can be a debilitating condition that affects many people’s quality of life. While the traditional treatment for chronic pain has traditionally been surgery, injection therapies and pain management through medication, one unconventional treatment has been gaining attention – music therapy. That’s right, jamming to your favorite tunes might actually help relieve pain.


Music has been used for thousands of years to alleviate pain and promote healing. However, the scientific community has only recently started to study the physiological and psychological mechanisms underlying the therapeutic benefits of music.


A recent study by Mälardalen University in Sörmland, Sweden, has gained attention for its investigation into the effectiveness of using music therapy as a means of treating chronic pain. The study, which focuses on the Functionally oriented Music Therapy (FMT) method, aims to provide scientific evidence of its ability to enhance well-being, improve quality of life, and alleviate suffering and pain for individuals with chronic pain. The ultimate goal is to determine if and how this approach can achieve these positive outcomes.


This project expands on a previous study that demonstrated how the FMT method can aid in the recovery of individuals with stroke and Parkinson’s disease. It highlights the potential of the FMT approach also to assist people who suffer from chronic pain. Ultimately, the study will compare the effects of FMT with the standard care available in local healthcare for individuals with chronic pain and help the researchers aim to gain a thorough understanding of how music and movement can promote recovery.


But what is FMT?


FMT is a method that utilizes music experiences and movement to enhance the well-being and recovery of individuals. With FMT, a therapist assesses the essential functions that a participant needs to improve and employs musical instruments such as drums and cymbals in various setups to encourage movement and stimulation throughout the body.


What Other Evidence Supports the Link Between Pain and Music?

A number of studies over the past decade support the potential for various forms of music therapy in the treatment of chronic pain. In addition to the FMT model, several studies examined the contextual aspects of music listening, as well as the physiological and cognitive benefits of music listening in relation to pain. Each with positive findings of their own.


One such study closely examined the positive effect music had on a woman who had previously lived more than 20  years with chronic pain. Researchers closely worked with her to create a compelling understanding of the therapeutic properties of music. Her experience suggested that music can relieve pain through cognitive and emotional mechanisms – described as music-induced analgesia – like the descending pain modulatory pathway. The study suggested that music can complement traditional pain therapies among certain individuals.


As mentioned, the study also showed improvements in physiological and cognitive aspects, including perceived restorative sleep, which may have improved the participant’s general well-being and cognitive and motor performance.


Can Listening or Playing Music Really Help Chronic Pan?

Music has been shown to provide relief from pain and anxiety, improve motivation for exercise, and enhance sleep quality. Much of this has to do with its effect on the autonomic nervous system, which regulates bodily functions such as heart rate, breathing, and digestion. Music can also reduce the perception of pain by stimulating the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.


While these physiological effects are notable on their own, music can also have a profound impact on emotions and cognition. Music has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, improve mood, and enhance cognitive performance. These effects may be due to music’s ability to modulate brain activity in regions associated with emotion, memory, and attention. These mood-related improvements can help patients increase feelings of self-control over their body and pain, which may further increase the pain threshold. The reduction of depression and anxiety symptoms may also improve one’s quality of life.


Although music therapy may not benefit everyone, research suggests that music-induced analgesia may be a viable option for some individuals with chronic pain. However, it’s worth noting the frequency with which music is used and certain instrumental properties, such as the acoustic quality and the use of high-fidelity headphones, may influence the effectiveness of music-induced analgesia.


Still in its infancy, music therapy shows startling potential for individuals living with chronic pain. With more time and insightful research, physicians may soon be able to understand and develop more integral and effective music-focused therapies for a wide variety of chronic pain conditions.


Rock Out With Our Pain Care Experts

At Omega Health & Wellness, we partner with our patients to help them reach their health goals and feel better. Our health and wellness team is currently accepting new patients and is standing by to assist you with medically-proven therapeutic treatment programs to help you reach your wellness goals. Best of all, when walking through our doors, you can expect friendly, knowledgeable and compassionate care, plus dependable access to your doctor. Request an appointment today or call us at 904-724-5767. 

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