Chronic pain plagues millions across our society. Young and old, no matter what the economic strata, there are countless people who suffer, and all too often in desperation reach for drugs that can turn deadly.
In my clinical work pain and anxiety are often the prime targets that I seek to resolve with therapeutic music. In hospice, patients are often under various medications and a key benefit of therapeutic music is that it has no contraindications. It can be used with a variety of other treatments and won’t have negative effects.
When asked about my work delivering prescriptive music at the bedside I often say that I’ve seen miracles when it comes to the reduction of pain and the increase of comfort. Music can have powerful effects.
There is considerable research available on the use of music to reduce pain and anxiety. Some researchers believe that music stimulates neural paths that carry pain messages. It’s called the ‘gate theory’. Flooding these sensors with music, distracts from pain.
Certain types of music can lower the heart and respiratory rates and that results in lowering of anxiety which often contributes to pain perception. Other types of music can flood the language processing side of the brain and again we see reduction in anxiety, and an increase in the ability to achieve deep rest.
In my online course, The Healer’s Visit, there are descriptions and examples of music that can reduce pain and anxiety and how to use that music to create healing environments.
Yes! Music can reduce physical pain…and also emotional pain which can often exacerbate physical pain.
Now I’d like to hear from you. Were you ever in a lot of physical or emotional pain and you reached for a special song or piece of music? What was that music? Were there vocals, or was it an instrumental? Was the tempo slow or fast? How long did you listen? Do you always listen to the same song or music at these times? Or is it more a choice of genre?
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James Schaller, CMP is a clinical musician and consultant who trains caregivers how to use therapeutic music, and consult with healthcare facilities to create soundscapes that benefit patients and staff.