A recent study, Effects of music on pain in patients with fibromyalgia1, presents a novel therapy, and gives us a critical key to easing fibromyalgia pain.
In looking at physiology, pain has two key components. The first is that a signal gets generated and sent to the brain. This electrical signal is no different than the signal the brain receives for heat, softness, cold, or countless other sensations. For pain though, it is what the brain does with the signal after it is received that makes all the difference. This is the component that is called suffering.
The brain is receiving far more information every second than it can possibly process. It simply has the ability to tune out most of it.
So instead of the sensations being unpleasant, research has shown that the brain can be distracted to simply ignore many of the signals. Including pain. And numerous studies have shown that the volume of pain signals go way down by using the right kinds of music as a distraction.
This recent controlled research study looks at fibromyalgia pain, and the effect of listening to the right kinds of music. For most new pain medications, if they can get the pain level to drop by 30 percent in just a third of the study population, it is hailed as a great breakthrough. The drug companies have a big party, and then charge $5000–$7500 a year for the medication (e.g., Savella and Lyrica). And then the commercials will show pretty butterflies while they list the side effects. Sedation, weight gain, dizziness, nausea, etc, etc.
On the other hand, this study using music showed that for $11.99, you can get more effective pain relief then you can with $7500 a year of medications. And instead of dizziness and weight gain, the only side effect is, perhaps, finding a big smile on your face.
This research group had people with fibromyalgia listen to music each day. They found that after 14 days, pain levels went down an average of 40 percent! If the pharmaceutical industry had a drug that could do that, they would be ecstatic. Interestingly, pain levels continued to drop further day after day, and it is likely that beyond the 14 days in the study, pain relief increased beyond the 40 percent drop. The music simply distracts your brain so it is starts to ignore the pain signal. Multiple studies show that this works for many kinds of pain, including cancer pain.
This doesn't mean that listening to jarring music is the way to go. You want something that will carry your mind off, away from the pain. My recommendation? Multiple Grammy award nominated pianist Peter Kater's new CD, Dancing on Water. In addition to being brilliant and beautiful, Peter Kater has an innate knack for understanding the role of sound in healing, and you will feel this as his music vibrates through your body. Listen to his CD once a day, and let it carry you away to a comfortable place of peace, ease, and bliss.
Peter Kater's newest CD, Dancing on Water, is now available for purchase on Amazon for $11.99
- Alparslan, G.B., Babadag, B., Özkaraman, A. et al. Effects of music on pain in patients with fibromyalgia. Clin Rheumatol (2016) 35: 1317. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10067-015-3046-3
Jacob E Teitelbaum, MD
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, is a board certified internist and Medical Director of the national Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers and Chronicity. He is author of the popular free iPhone application "Cures A-Z," and author of the best-selling books
- The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia
- From Fatigued to Fantastic!
- Pain Free 1-2-3
- Three Steps to Happiness: Healing Through Joy
- The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction
- Beat Sugar Addiction Now! Cookbook
- Real Cause, Real Cure: The 9 root causes of the most common health problems and how to solve them
Dr. Teitelbaum knows CFS/fibromyalgia as an insider — he contracted CFS when he was in medical school and had to drop out for a year to recover. In the ensuing 25 years, he has dedicated his career to finding effective treatments.