Posted on Jan 18, 2012, 6 a.m.
Listening to music lessens the pain response, particularly among people who are anxious about undergoing a medical procedure.
A number of previous studies have demonstrated that music is an effective distraction for people undergoing a medical procedure. David H. Bradshaw, from the University of Utah (Utah, USA), and colleagues studied 143 people who listened to music while they received a painful shock in their fingertip. The researchers measured the subjects’ responses to pain via electrical activity in the brain, dilation of their pupils, and other objective methods. Participants were asked to follow the melodies, and identify unusual tones in an effort to take their mind off the pain. The researchers observed that the subjects’ pain decreased as they became more and more absorbed in the tunes. Those who were the most anxious reaped the most pain-relieving benefits when they became engaged in the music. Explaining that: “Engaging in music listening can reduce responses to pain, depending on the person: people who are anxious and can become absorbed in activities easily may find music listening especially effective for relieving pain,” the study authors submit that: “Clinicians should consider patients’ personality characteristics when recommending behavioral interventions like music listening for pain relief.”
David H. Bradshaw, Gary W. Donaldson, Robert C. Jacobson, Yoshio Nakamura, et al. “Individual Differences in the Effects of Music Engagement on Responses to Painful Stimulation.” Journal of Pain, The Vol. 12, Issue 12, Pages 1262-1273.