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Adrienne Dellwo

Can Music Ease Fibromyalgia Pain?

By July 29, 2009

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If you feel better when listening to your favorite music, you're not alone -- a study coming out of Glasgow Caledonian University, in the UK, showed that it can actually help people tolerate more pain.

Researcher Laura Mitchell looked at what distractions worked better -- listening to music, listening to humorous tapes, doing math puzzles, or looking at art. Not only did music prove to distract the brain most effectively, Mitchell says its effectiveness really surprised her.

It doesn't seem to matter what kind of music it is, either, she says -- as long as the person really likes it.

This test wasn't specifically done for the unique brand(s) of pain those of us with fibromyalgia experience, but this goes in the "it certainly can't hurt to try" category. In our case, it's probably best to go for something we like that's also calming, since at times even music I typically enjoy can get my nerves rattled.

As a musician, this study really intrigues me. I know that playing music is a global process, meaning that it involves the whole brain, so I wonder if listening to it also takes up more of the brain than other activities.

What do you think about this? Does music help you feel better? Is it something you've intentionally turned to as a coping mechanism? Leave your comments below!


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July 29, 2009 at 9:13 pm
(1) Ray Poll says:

My wife is a fibro sufferer. When she is realy hurting, I’ll darken the room and play some easy listening or classical muisic. It seems to help.

July 30, 2009 at 9:51 pm
(2) Sandy says:

I am a big music lover and I get up and dance along with it so it is doubling pleasure – relaxation and mobility exercise. Exercises are boring but dancing is fun. However my cat runs and hides so he does not have to be my partner. Maybe if I buy him the black tie for cats at Target he will get some class.

July 31, 2009 at 4:26 pm
(3) Kathryn says:

Music always helps! Easy listening, what I call “Zen” music, classical. Baroque classical when I need my brain to function, quiet music when I can I can’t get my muscles to unclench. Comedy, especially Jack Benny, and old time radio helps when I’m low.

July 31, 2009 at 5:26 pm
(4) Andrea says:

If I’m feeling especially bad, I sometimes like to put on a really mellow artist, Whether it be New Age, Natalie Merchant, something very calming seems to help ease my pain.

July 31, 2009 at 8:39 pm
(5) Charmagne says:

I sing in a chorus and get weekly bursts of endorphins that last several days. A standing ovation at our concert leaves me “high” and in less pain longer. When I listen to a recording of our concert, I gain some relief again. I teach a Relaxation and Pain Management class and use soft classical and singing to soothe my fellow fibro friends. Vocal warm ups daily are an energy booster.

August 3, 2009 at 10:48 am
(6) Scribelle says:

I find music helps – easy listening/zen if I am lying down in pain, upbeat/dancing if I am in pain but able to move. The style of music varies, but the effect is the same. I have also come to appreciate the ipod as it tunes out my husband’s tv. It plays music, but also gives me some control about environmental sound.

August 8, 2009 at 9:17 pm
(7) weeroo says:

I found that learning to meditate went much better when I used a meditaion music of some kind, there are some compositions on youtube that last 25 minutes!

December 6, 2010 at 12:56 pm
(8) Valerie says:

It works for me. I’ve always loved listening to music. That it helps with the pain is an added blessing.

December 6, 2010 at 8:29 pm
(9) pat irish says:

I sing with my choir at church, and tape practices to learn the music. I’ve had days when I had a migraine, and sat and listened to the music. It helps the headache go away. I always feel better after going to practice!

December 7, 2010 at 10:53 am
(10) PJ says:

When I am in so much pain I play and don’t laugh or judge but I saw this on You Tube when the movie came out “300″ and a song by Disturbed very hard crazy rock was with the movie video “Down with the Sickness” very angry sounding but feels good to hear someone say we’ll never give up get down with the sickness, I simply love this song and it helps somehow.

March 27, 2011 at 10:19 am
(11) Erica says:

It’s funny, really. I’ve been tested for everything under the sun for quite a few years, ms mostly, until two summers ago when a rheumatologist I saw diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. I have a few autoimmune disorders.

I was off work for much of the diagnostic stage. In that time I listened to music on my radio a lot. I learned the lyrics to lots of songs, to the point where I could sing them when I wasn’t listening to the music. I have progressed, through exercise, etc., to the point where I now hike, my mountain bike is my regular mode of transportation and I work out and take classes at a local gym. I still am in pain and all the rest of it, but I find that all of that helps.

Now to the funny part. I began noticing just the other day that when I am feeling intense pain when doing anything, I suddenly begin to sing (albeit not prettily lol) out loud, without thinking about it. Now, I had never heard of music therapy before I started realizing just what I was doing. I woke up this morning with the need to google ‘fibromyalgia music therapy’ and there it was. It’s already out there.

It really DOES work, too bad I can’t patent my idea, since it’s already out there. ;)

March 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm
(12) Erica says:

Add to that this link which someone posted on facebook. I keep playing it, perhaps I’m practicing the lyrics to sing to myself as I bike today? :)


Awesome explanatory device.

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