For those living with chronic pain, medications including NSAIDS, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, weak and strong opioids are used to provide relief. However, multiple studies have revealed the dangers of these drugs often outweigh the benefits. In many cases, they also provide very little relief. One of the major components of chronic pain is its emotional impact, or suffering.
Now researchers are trying to determine whether music might be a safer way to reduce pain and suffering. So how might music help and could it be an effective alternative to treat pain?
The dangers of opioids
Opioids are pain-relieving drugs that interact with the cell’s opioid receptors. Between the years 1998 and 2016, research showed that opioid prescriptions within the UK rose by 126%. This is despite the dangers the drugs pose to patient health.
Some of the most common dangers of opioids include:
- Slower heart rate and breathing
- Increased pain
Ironically, patients can develop worse pain after taking opioids. They are also at serious risk of developing a physical and psychological dependence on the drugs. The risk of addiction led the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to issue a strong warning in September 2020. They advise healthcare professionals to discuss the risks with patients before prescribing opioid medication.
The pain relief benefits of music
In a bid to reduce dependency on opioid medication, researchers are constantly looking into new alternative treatments. The pain-relieving benefits of music have been studied since the 1960’s.
A group of dentists from Massachusetts in 1960 played music to their patients during 5000 operations. They discovered that it aided relaxation, and directly suppressed pain. In some cases, patients didn’t even need nitrous oxide or local anaesthetic for pain relief.
A recent Chinese study has also revealed the surprising pain relief benefits of music. They discovered the neural mechanisms that can lessen pain in mice. While human studies will need to be carried out to confirm the findings of the latest study, it does prove promising.
Other natural ways to treat chronic pain
While music is showing a lot of promise relating to pain relief, there are alternative treatment methods available right now. These include other (non-opioid) medications as well as non-drug treatments for effective pain management. Complimentary therapies such as yoga, acupuncture or acupressure can be tried to improve quality of life.
It always has to be remembered that any ongoing medications need reviewing for their safety and efficacy. Dr Stoilova’s clinical practice includes medication review and dose corrections and when adjustments are needed, you are counselled.
Dr Stoilova’s holistic approach strongly supports using music as listening to, playing or learning to play to express emotions and reduce suffering. This creates new brain interconnections that are favourably reducing the burden of pain. Get in touch to find out the best treatments to help you with your chronic pain condition.