Music to relieve pain

Posted by
Erin Nichols
 June 14, 2016

This week’s musing isn’t exactly about flute specifically–but they say to write about what you know! I have unfortunately been dealing with chronic pain in my upper body for years and have recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I have spoken to so many musicians who are wrestling with carpal tunnel, tendonitis, back problems, and so much more! Luckily, we all have access to one of the great healers–music.

There is a wonderful article from the BBC that highlights the good that music–be it playing or listening to–can do for those suffering from chronic pain. According to the Center for Functionally Integrative Neuroscience in Denmark, “there are two brain mechanisms that may be responsible for the pain-relieving effect that music has on chronic pain…It may be that enjoyable music can trigger the release of opioids in the brain. Opioids are the body’s own ‘morphine’, which may explain why music can reduce the feeling of pain and the reduced need for pain medication. Or it could be that the pain-relieving effect may be the result of music simply being an incredibly effective way of redirecting our attention away from our pain.” How fascinating is that?? I always knew I was in the right field….

There is a caveat, though. In terms of pain, it is important that you listen to music that you already know and like. When you’re in pain, you need a familiar setting in which you can navigate, and if you can do that with music you know and like. So if you’re having a flare-up day, it might be best to stay away from those Karg-Elert etudes and focus on some Mozart or Chaminade.

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