Can Music Relieve Pain?

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Introduction

Are you in pain?  I am. I know you don’t really want to live with it.  You want it to stop. You want to live without chronic pain.  But the reality may be that you will have to live with it. I have, for the past several years.  Have you? What have you done to make life liveable? Do you have days that you can barely face the world?  Or even face yourself?

This website was the result of my pain journey.  I have spent hours researching how to deal with chronic pain.  My head was crammed with information. I started to test out some of the advice I was finding.  The posts I have written feature my collected information. I am honest in my evaluation. Some things work.  Some things don’t. I believe different options work for different people.  

As I continue my research, I am always hoping for a new exciting development in the chronic pain field.  So far, I haven’t found it.  

I realize there is more awareness and compassion in the medical field for chronic pain sufferers.  That wasn’t the case years ago. The common philosophy was that a sufferer should respond to what the physician prescribed, and if they didn’t then there was something wrong mentally.  I’m so thankful I have not been treated that way. I hope you haven’t either.  

Here’s what’s current and working for people

I’ve addressed most of these topics on previous posts.  Click on the links to check them out.  Some more in depth than others. Meditation, mindfulness and focus still need more research.  

Music

Today I am writing about Music.  What, you may ask, does music have to do with chronic pain?  Good question. I hope to answer that and more thoughts in this post.  

Research thus far has not been able to define the reason why music can assist in pain management.  The current wisdom is that music affects the brain in ways that can interrupt the pain message that is sent to the brain.  There are some instances where music has helped people with brain damage and mental illness to gain some victory in overcoming their disability.  

Apparently when the brain concentrates on music, the pathways in the brain are busy enough to block out the pain messages, or at least jam them up.  Music involves your hearing, your concentration, your emotions, and probably movement. I like to rock out to 60s tunes while I’m sitting at the stop light.  You know, move my upper body to the beat, snap my fingers. Or sometimes dance around the apartment as if I were a teenager. Check out this article from ScienceNordic titled Music Can Relieve Chronic Pain.

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Music Genre

The effect it can have on managing chronic pain has not been researched enough.  But one early study showed that the choice of music made by the sufferer made a difference in the music’s ability to relieve the suffering.  Just the act of picking out the music to listen to, researching the options and music that is available, can be a distraction to the brain to focus it off of suffering.  Furthermore, some types of music relaxes the individual by releasing endorphins that can be natural pain relief hormones. Just like opioids; only naturally!  Here’s another interesting article about this topic.  

You have probably experienced such feelings throughout your life, right?  Stop and think about some piece of music that is a favorite. For example, as a teenager growing up in the 60s in Southern California, Summer in the City, by the Lovin’ Spoonful became a benchmark to draw me back to those hot evenings of my youth.  Everytime I hear that song I am transported back to that feeling of hope, joy, and possibility.  It helped that I was cruising around in a 1967 Camaro, with 4 on the floor. 🙂 Does a song you love have that same power?  

Or think about the music that plays in an acupuncturist office.  I have experienced three different practitioners in my journey of pain.  The one I am using now is the most helpful. See here to read about my search for the right one.  The office plays relaxing quiet music which helps my mind to relax.  I am even able to take a nap! And that’s with needles stuck in me. And I don’t take naps or fall asleep easily.  

Music used with meditation has been shown to relax the listener.  Meditation is another form of natural pain relief. The combination of meditation and music can be a powerful natural remedy against pain.  Involved in this practice is some form of relaxation. I found this article while researching. I don’t actually care for the two music videos it features, but you might like them.  It’s a place to start. Click here: Can Music Relieve Chronic Pain?

Also think about all the music that Disney uses throughout their parks.  The music is happy and upbeat. No wonder it is the happiest place on earth!

Composer Robert Schumann is said, “To send light into the darkness of meant’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist.”  Music brings light into the darkness of our suffering.

The following video was very inspiring and profound.  It got me thinking about how powerful music is.

 

Where to find music?

Wow!  The options are legion as far as apps are concerned.  Check out this link that evaluates the offerings out there.  It is written for Androids, but I believe the same apps are available for IOS.  

I’m using Pandora.  I paid for the basic subscription to avoid the ads.  But if you don’t mind the ads, it’s free. I believe that’s the case for most of the other apps.  I also will use YouTube to search a genre depending on my mood and have that playing while I work on my website.  There are so many choices out there, it is easy to find something for everyone.

The key to music relieving pain is that you are active in your listening.  This fits in with my philosophy of being proactive about your health. What is active listening? From my research I found these characteristics of an active music listener.

  • How does the music make you feel? Evaluate your response to what you are hearing.  Do you feel different feelings while the music plays?
  • What instruments do you hear? Try to name them.
  • What’s the melody?  
  • What are the lyrics?
  • If the music is classical, research why the composer wrote it.  It will add to your experience.
  • Does it make you want to move?  Cry? Sing along?  

This type of activity requires your full attention. This in itself will divert your mind from the pain.  But then you gain other benefits too. Your focus has shifted from your pain to an engaging activity. The type of music will change your mood.  For instance, classical helps me think and inspires me. My 60s music makes me happy and I have to get up and dance and sing.  

Here’s a place to start.  Look at what they claim!  “The Most Relaxing Classical Music in the Universe“.  I don’t have a link right now, so I suggest you search it to find the best deal.

Conclusion

What about you?  I’m sure you have your favorites.  I want very much to hear about them, and why they are your choices.  Your comments will help others, opening each of us to new ideas. And hopefully to less pain.  How has music helped you with your pain?  Or with other issues in your life?  Join this community to help others.