Overall, music does have positive effects on pain management. Music can help reduce both the sensation and distress of both chronic pain and postoperative pain.
Listening to music can reduce chronic pain from a range of painful conditions, including osteoarthritis, disc problems and rheumatoid arthritis, by up to 21% and depression by up to 25%, according to a paper in the latest UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing29.
Music therapy is increasingly used in hospitals to reduce the need for medication during childbirth, to decrease postoperative pain and complement the use of anesthesia during surgery30.
There are several theories about how music positively affects perceived pain:
1. Music produces revulsive effect
2. Music may give the patient a sense of control
3. Music causes the body to release endorphins to counteract pain
4. Slow music relaxes by slowing breathing and heartbeat
29. Siedliecki SL, Good M. Effect of music on power, pain, depression and disability. J Adv Nurs. 2006 Jun;54(5):553-62.
30. Nilsson U, Unosson M, Rawal N. Stress reduction and analgesia in patients exposed to calming music postoperatively: a randomized controlled trial. Eur J Anaesthesiol. 2005 Feb;22(2):96-102. PubMed