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What Are the Benefits of Music Therapy for Pain?

By Brandon May
Updated May 17, 2024
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Music therapy for pain management has been used for years in complementary medical approaches, helping patients with irregular or chronic pain and sometimes even reducing the amount of pain medication needed during treatment. Research shows that the perception of pain can be lowered in those suffering from chronic pain, often due to the effects of relaxation. The use of music therapy for pain can also provide a sense of hope for some patients, helping to increase a sense of happiness associated with the feel good hormones like serotonin. Also, music therapy may help increase mood and provide rhythmic breathing in some individuals, providing a deeper sense of relaxation and a lower level of pain.

Research looking into music therapy for pain management has shown that pleasant sounding tones and melodies can reduce the perception of pain in some individuals. When faced with chronic pain, from a disease or injury, music seems to provide some relief from the pain, if only temporarily. Since music can become engaging for the listener, music of any type can become a pleasant distraction for a patient, helping provide a release from any pain experienced. The continual use of distraction in music therapy can often help provide comfort for some patients dealing with low or moderate pain.

Relaxation through music provides the best release from pain, and most music therapists often use calm and slow music to illicit a relaxation response in patients. The effect of relaxation can provide some relief for those suffering low to moderate pain and maybe even intense pain. More often than not, the interactions within the brain start to slow down in response to relaxing music, slightly altering the mind's sense of conscious awareness. This also provides a distraction for the mind, and may even lower the perception of pain in some patients, depending on the individual.

Breathing and heart rate often slow down when listening to a pleasant sound, helping release tension and stress associated with an illness or other medical-related condition. Most music therapists also use music therapy for pain management to increase mood in patients, offering hope and a better sense of self. By using music therapy for pain management, doctors may help a patient decrease the amount of anti-pain medications used during a treatment or operation. Although the effects of music therapy may only be temporary, it is still seen as a suitable complementary approach to conventional medical advice and treatment.

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