Tune into this natural therapy to soothe pain

I’ve talked a lot recently about the dangers associated with pain relieving drugs like NSAIDs. So I’m always on the lookout for natural alternatives that can help you avoid them. And this new study I just read in The Lancet fits that bill nicely. According to researchers from the UK, music can ease pain before, during and after surgery.

Over the years there have been scores of studies that have looked at music and its connection to pain relief. But what makes this most recent study so interesting is that it pulled together 73 separate clinical trials and honed in on the role music played in the pain relief factor specifically for patients who were having surgery.

And researchers found this particular group of patients who listened to music needed significantly less pain medication. In fact, listening to music dropped the pain factor down two notches on the 10-point pain scale. That’s pretty significant, considering two points down is about same relief as one dose of painkillers.

So, how does music work its magic? Well, many of the same brain pathways that process pain also process music. When you are actively engaging with music, emotional responses are triggered which compete for attention with the pain responses. Since you only have so many resources to call upon, the pain gets pushed to the background and music takes precedence.

Of course, the key phrase here is “actively engaging” with the music. Which means it has to be something you enjoy. “New Age” wind chimes may not be your thing. And you’ll only get the pain-relieving benefits from whatever music you like—whether it’s classic rock jamming or Sinatra crooning.

Given the evidence of music’s effectiveness, it’s a wonder more doctor’s and hospitals don’t use this easy alternative therapy. It’s free, it makes you feel good, and it doesn’t have any adverse side effects. What could be better than that?