Study Finds Music Can Aid In Reducing Chronic Pain


Looking to get the most out of your pain medication? Play your favorite song.

A new study, published in the Journal of Music Therapy, suggests that music could be a complimentary tool to traditional pain relief outlets such as medication. The findings came from the Ehwa Women’s School in Seoul, Korea.

Study author Jin Hyung Lee analyzed 97 randomized controlled trials between 1995 and 2014, which included a total of 9,147 patients. Several of the trials focused on music medicine, which is essentially “prerecorded music experiences” selected for their effects.

Although the results weren’t consistent across all the studies, Lee’s final consensus was those who listened to music for 30-40 minutes recorded their pain as one point lower on a 1-10 pain scale compared to those who didn’t listen to music. She noted that music also helps relieve stress and anxiety by stimulating additional senses other than pain receptors.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of music therapists who work in the medical and hospice care settings,” said Lee via e-mail to Reuters Health. “In addition, music therapists provide various music experiences with specific clinical intent to promote a sense of hope and control, to actively re-direct patients’ attention, and to support patients to actively cope with their illness.”

“Music medicine and music therapy are not meant to be alternative forms of therapy,” she added, “but rather they are provided as a complementary treatment to existing care.”

Dr. John Marshall, of the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia, Missouri, completed a separate study on the benefits of music for colonoscopy patients. He found that playing music for patients who were awake during their procedures helped relax them and improved their overall experience.

Other studies have also supported these findings. June A 2006 study, published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, showed that adults with chronic pain reported fewer mental and physical effects by listening to music of their choice for an hour each day.