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Music for the soul, and pain!

Woman listening to music in bathtubMore research has been focusing on chronic pain and the role that the brain plays in either inhibiting or amplifying symptoms a patient is experiencing. Chronic pain changes the way the brain perceives pain so that even when the initially injury has subsided, the brain holds onto the memory of pain.

Some recent studies have focused on ways to distract the brain from chronic pain symptoms, specifically by listening to music. “Since emotion and pain are strongly linked, music that resonates with positive emotions triggers positive memories that can also affect mood and the ability to handle pain” (Vitelli, 2016).

A study in the U.K. looked at how participants responded to an unpleasant stimuli (cold water hand bath) when listening to music and without music. This study found that participants who listened to pleasing music during the cold water bath complained of less pain during the session and felt that the session was shorter compared to the group that was in silence.

This can then theoretically be applied to chronic pain. When things are just not getting better, turn on your favorite artist to try and keep the brain and body happy!

Lukas Mehling PT, DPT

Passing the time when in pain: Investigating the role of musical valence.

By Finlay, Katherine A.; Anil, Krithika

Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, Vol 26(1), Mar 2016, 56-66.