For many people, music can soothe the soul and calm the chaos in the mind. Now, a new study has found that listening to favourite songs could also alleviate people’s perception of pain.
The study, published in Frontiers of Pain Research, has found that a patient’s favourite music strongly reduced pain intensity and unpleasantness. This decreased sensitivity to pain, which is known as hypoalgesia, can occur when “pain stimuli are disrupted between their point of input and where they are recognized as pain by the conscious mind,” a press release published in Eureka Alert! explains. The findings also revealed that unfamiliar relaxing tracks or silence did not have the same effect as favourite music.'
For the study, the participants received moderately painful thermal stimuli to the inner forearm. The sensation was similar to touching a hot teacup. Music excerpts were played with the stimuli. The researchers found that the favourite music chosen by the participants had a much larger effect on acute thermal pain reduction than unfamiliar relaxing music. “We also found that emotional responses play a very strong role in predicting whether music will have an effect on pain,” adds study author Darius Valevicius in the release.
To test this further, researchers used scrambled music which didn’t have the same effect, leading them to conclude that it is probably not just the presence of a sound stimulus that is causing the hypoalgesia. They also found moving music seemed to result in lower ratings of pain unpleasantness, which was driven by more intense enjoyment of the music and more musical chills. According to the researchers, musical chills, which can manifest as goosebumps or tingling sensations, seem to indicate a neurophysiological process that is effective at blocking pain signals, the release explains.
Earlier this year, another study, led by the journal Clinical Nursing Research, suggested that music-listening interventions also can make medicines more effective. The small pilot study, conducted on 12 patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment, showed that those who listened to their favourite music reported a reduction in their nausea severity and distress, according to a Science Daily report.