APM Blog

How Music Therapy Can Help Reduce Pain

15 Nov

Music can move people. It can bring a smile to a face, tears to eyes; music can make us laugh and motivate us to overcome obstacles. But did you know that the power of music can even reduce the perception of pain[1]?

As more and more studies reveal the benefits of music therapy in healthcare, it’s no wonder that this field continues to grow. Music therapy has been shown to lower stress, enhance comfort and manage pain for people of all ages, genders and races.

It can work in many different ways. At its most basic, rhythm's ability to ease pain has been noted among patients in cancer wards and nursing homes[2].

Some medical facilities will use music to elevate patients’ moods, promote movement for physical rehabilitation, calm patients down, counteract apprehension or fear, and lessen muscle tension for the purpose of relaxation. Music with a strong beat can actually stimulate brain waves, including those that govern the autonomic nervous system, which can slow breathing and heart rates.

And while the greatest benefits of music therapy will come in a professional setting with a trained expert, people can use music to assist in relieving daily aches and pains. Music can be used for relaxation, to get an added boost for physical activity, as a catharsis when dealing with emotional stress, and other ways.

There is no one kind of music that everyone finds soothing or beneficial in reducing pain. Start by identifying the type of music that soothes you the most and makes you feel comfortable. This might be anything – classic music, jazz, rock ‘n roll, maybe even rap.

You will likely find that you use different types of music to promote specific types of healthy activities. While one form of music might get you revved up for a walk or run through the neighborhood, another type of music might be perfect to relax your tight muscles after that run. A good balance of physical activity and periods of relaxation can dramatically help reduce the pain people experience.

Music also has the power to improve your state of mind. This helps keep things like depression and anxiety at bay[3]. Having a positive attitude can prove beneficial in decreasing pain.

While listening to music can provide many benefits, actually making the music has been shown to provide even better results. And no, it’s not necessary to be a musician to get involved. Some people find that rhythmically banging on a drum can provide serious returns.

What type of music do you find theraputic? Let us know in the comments section.

Nileshkumar Patel, MD

Nilesh Patel, M.D., works for Advanced Pain Management in Green Bay. He is board certified in both pain management and anesthesiology.


[1]Tan, X., Yowler, C.J., Super, D.M. & Fratianne, R.B. (2010). The efficacy of music therapy protocols for decreasing pain, anxiety, and muscle tension levels during burn dressing changes: a prospective randomized crossover trial. J Burn Care Res., 31(4):590-7.

[2] Magill, L. & Berenson, S. (2008). The conjoint use of music therapy and reflexology with hospitalized advanced stage cancer patients and their families. Palliat Support Care. 6(3):289-96.

[3] Siedliecki, S.L. & Good, M. (2006). Effect of music on power, pain, depression and disability. J Adv Nurs. 54(5):553-62.

Last modified on Wednesday, 22 November 2017 08:17

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