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Music May Ease Chronic Pain

Listening to Tunes for an Hour a Day Makes a Difference, Study Shows

Soothing Sounds

Here are details on the improvements seen in the music groups' surveys:

  • Average pain ratings fell by about 20%.
  • Average depression scores fell by up to 25%.
  • Average self-rated disability dropped by up to 18%.
  • Feelings of empowerment rose by up to 8%.

Did it matter if patients selected their own music? Probably not. Any differences between the two music groups' average improvements may have been due to chance, the study shows.

Musical style apparently didn't matter, either. "A variety of different music selections and styles, some with lyrics and some without, were found to be effective in this study," the researchers write.

Addition to Pain Therapy?

The researchers aren't suggesting that music can totally erase pain, and they're not suggesting it as a replacement for standard pain care. But music might be a harmless addition to treatment, the study shows.

"Music is safe, inexpensive, and easy for nurses to teach patients to use," write Siedliecki and Good. They note that nurses can help patients find and use music to help deal with chronic, nonmalignant pain. In doing so, nurses should be sensitive to patients' musical preferences, the researchers add.

Exactly how music helped the patients cope with chronic pain isn't known, or if the rest they got while listening to the music made a difference.

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