Many French people suffer from chronic pain – whether joint, muscle or bone. Although it is difficult to overcome, researchers may have found the solution. Explanations.
Music prevents pain from reaching the brain
Whether sudden or progressive, diffuse or localized: the pain is often very difficult to bear. To try to remedy this, Canadian researchers conducted a battery of… musical tests.
To do this, they recruited 63 healthy candidates, who received moderately painful heat on the inside of the forearm (the researchers used a probe to heat an area of their left arm – a sensation similar to that of a hot cup of coffee being held against the skin, editor’s note).
During the process, participants had to listen to: two of their favorite pieces, relaxing music, scrambled music or silence.
At the end of the tests, the candidates had to evaluate the intensity and unpleasantness of the pain, their emotions but also the number of musical “shivers” felt (tingling, chills or goosebumps, editor’s note).
Result ? When the volunteers’ favorite tunes were played, the pain was about four points less intense on a 100-point scale and about nine points less unpleasant, compared to silence or garbled sound.
As for the so-called “relaxing” music, it did not seem as effective as the candidates’ favorite excerpts.
“Favorite music chosen by study participants had a much greater effect on reducing acute thermal pain than unfamiliar relaxing music“, admits the lead author of the study, Darius Valevicius. “We also found that emotional responses play a very important role in predicting whether music will have an effect on pain.”
Sad songs, evoking bittersweet or moving experiences, seemed to be the most effective against pain.
Quite promising results, according to the researchers
“We can estimate that favorite music reduces pain by about one point on a 10-point scale, which is at least as powerful as an over-the-counter pain reliever like Advil (ibuprofen) under the same conditions. Music in motion can have an even stronger effect“, said Darius Valevicius, first author of the research from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
Despite everything, the study has certain limitations: the number of candidates is insufficient to establish truths and the relaxing music was not listened to long enough.
Further work is therefore needed to explore these findings further.