Research Publications on Music for Pain Management

Music therapy, including classical music therapy and active musical engagement, has demonstrated significant efficacy in pain and anxiety management across various studies. It promotes relaxation, mood alteration, and a sense of control, making it a valuable non-pharmacological method for treating pain. 

Music Therapy in Pain Management; Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 1986; Link

The research indicates that music therapy is a nonpharmacologic method that can be used to treat pain and suffering. Music therapy aims to promote relaxation, alteration in mood, a sense of control and self expression. Music therapy techniques are individually devised, consideration given to patient's physical, emotional and psychological needs, coping abilities and prior musical experiences. Active involvement is encouraged to facilitate cognitive and emotional expression as well as involvement in pain management.

The Role of Classical Music Therapy on Dysmenorrhea Pain and Anxiety in Pelita Harapan University Medical Students Medicinus, 2023; Link

The study explored the efficacy of classical music therapy in alleviating dysmenorrhea pain and anxiety among young women, specifically targeting medical students at Pelita Harapan University. Through an experimental design with random allocation, 122 participants were divided into a control group, which received a 40Hz sound treatment, and an intervention group, which was treated with classical music therapy for 20 minutes during the first day of menstruation. The intervention demonstrated a notable decrease in menstrual pain for the classical music therapy group, with average pain scores dropping from 6.46 before the intervention to 3.39 afterwards. Conversely, the control group saw a minimal reduction in pain, from an average of 6.11 to 6.07. The study concluded that classical music therapy significantly reduces menstrual pain by an average of 3.07 points and anxiety by 0.77, with a statistically significant P value of <0.001. These findings suggest that classical music therapy could be a valuable non-pharmacological approach to managing dysmenorrhea symptoms.

Performance of Music Elevates Pain Threshold and Positive Affect: Implications for the Evolutionary Function of Music; Sage Journals, 2012; Link

The study investigates how music influences endorphin release and its subsequent effect on pain tolerance and emotional states, with a focus on the distinction between the passive listening to and active performance of music. Through four experiments involving different musical activities (singing, drumming, dancing, and listening with varying tempos), the study examines the impact on pain threshold as an assay for central nervous system (CNS) endorphin release. Key findings from the experiments demonstrate that active musical engagement (singing, drumming, and dancing) significantly increases pain tolerance, presumably due to endorphin release, compared to passive listening or control conditions involving no musical engagement. The study also notes an elevated positive affect in participants engaged in active music performance, suggesting a distinct pleasure or 'high' associated with such activities, potentially mediated by endorphins. These results highlight the powerful role of active music-making in fostering social bonding and community cohesion, attributed to the physical exertion and emotional engagement involved. The study supports the theory that music's capacity to enhance community bonds and individual well-being is rooted in its ability to trigger endorphin release, thereby reducing pain and enhancing positive emotional states. The implications suggest that music, particularly its active performance, may play a critical role in social and therapeutic contexts by leveraging the endorphin system for pain management and emotional regulation.

The effects of music listening on the management of pain in primary dysmenorrhea: A randomized controlled clinical trialNordic Journal of Music Therapy, 2020; Link

This study investigated the effect of music listening on pain management in women with primary dysmenorrhea (PD), comparing it to a control group exposed to silence. The intervention, applied during the first 12 hours of menstruation, involved the music group listening to a C major composition at 60 beats per minute without percussion or lyrics, while the control group was subjected to silence, with both interventions lasting approximately 29 minutes and participants wearing headphones. The study's outcomes revealed that the music group experienced a significant reduction in pain (with adjusted mean pain scores significantly lower at 3.13) compared to the silence group (with adjusted mean pain scores at 4.56, p = 0.006). Furthermore, participants in the music group were significantly more likely to reduce their use of analgesics post-intervention (OR 5.4). These findings suggest that music listening can effectively decrease pain and the subsequent need for analgesics in women suffering from PD, highlighting music's potential as a non-pharmacological intervention for pain management in PD.