Managing pain with music

Submitted on Wednesday September 26th, 2012

Here's a new prescription for pain relief: the sound of music.

Pain is very real. It is also a perception. How strongly we feel pain at any given time depends a good deal on our thoughts and mood. Music has a profound influence on both. Indeed, research shows that using music as therapy can reduce the experience of pain.

For immediate relief of sudden pain, music therapists suggest music with a strong, positive rhythm or lyrics. Maybe tunes from a favorite musical or an upbeat instrumental composition. Such attention-getting music provides a good distraction and stimulates release of the body's natural painkillers.

For release from chronic pain, soothing music has proven to be the best. In this type of therapy, a chosen piece is played over and over again. While the music is playing, the listener practices relaxation techniques. After a period of such "conditioning," just hearing the music cues a deep sense of ease.