Text Size
Smaller
Bigger
Pain

Music Reduces Experience of Pain, Especially Among People with High Anxiety

posted 11:42 PM EST, Tue December 27, 2011
-- filed under: | | |

Looking for a way to control your pain without resorting to addictive opiates? Well, researchers say you might as well start by putting on some of your favorite music, because in one recent study, listening to music actually reduced sensations of pain.

Researchers at the University of Utah Pain Research Center wondered if music might produce more than emotional response; they wondered if music might also be used as a form of analgesic medicine, speculating that music might disrupt a person’s ability to attend to sensations of pain and thereby reduce the intensity of experienced pain.

To test their hypothesis they enlisted 143 study volunteers and:

  1. Had each subject listen to music and complete a task that consisted of following the melody in a song and listening for deviant tones within that melody
  2. Gave periodic electroshocks via electrodes attached to each subject’s fingertips
  3. Measured overall arousal levels during the experiment (looking to find out if electroshocks given during music tasks elicited less arousal than electroshocks given without accompanying music tasks)

The Results

  • Engaging in a music task reduced the experience of pain.
  • The subjects who went into the experiment with the most anxiety about the pain they would experience achieved the greatest reduction in pain

Discussion

The study authors suggest 3 explanations for music’s ability to reduce the experience of pain:

  1. Music activates certain sensory pathways in the brain and when these pathways are activated the brain is less able to make use of similar sensory pathways that transmit pain information
  2. Music can elicit a positive emotional state which protects against the experience of pain
  3. When attending to music you are less able to attend to the experience of pain

Recommendations

The researchers recommend listening to music as a way to control pain, particularly for people who feel high levels of anxiety about pain and for those who can become very engrossed in a task.

The full study results can be read in the Dec 2011 edition of the Journal of Pain

Email It Send this page Print It Print friendly page Subscribe Subscribe to this topic category
Story Highlights
  • Music Reduces Sensations of Pain: Listening to music disrupts a person's ability to attend to pain.
  • For Those with High Anxiety: Music caused the greatest reductions in experienced pain among those with highest pain anxiety.
Creative Commons License
Copyright Notice
We welcome republishing of our content on condition that you credit Choose Help and the respective authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Join Thousands of Readers

who receive our weekly recovery newsletter.

Helpful Information
Understanding Addiction - What You Need to Know
Understanding Addiction -  What You Need to Know © mediaspin.com
Want to understand addiction? Here are the straight facts from the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Read Article
Addictions April 16, 2012 (5)
Dealing with Depression and Chronic Pain Learn how opioids can lead to depression, how depression worsens pain and what to do when you have both pain and depression. Read Article
Pain & Opioid Issues April 07, 2015
In Pain? Assess Your Addiction Risks Should you take opioids? Pain and addiction go hand-in-hand. Learn why pain ups addiction risks and who’s most at risk to develop a problem. Read Article
Pain & Opioid Issues May 28, 2014
Like Our Site? Follow Us!

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.