Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Utah study: Music helps take the sting out of pain
Research » Utah doctors study the power of music to soothe and distract.
First Published Apr 11 2012 11:02 am • Last Updated Apr 11 2012 06:17 pm

If you prick your finger and dip it in alcohol, it will sting.

But if you prick your finger, dip it in alcohol and sing the final verse of Bruce Springsteen’s "Born to Run," you probably won’t feel the pain as much.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

That is a simplified version of a study that was conducted recently at the University of Utah’s Pain Research Center.

Five doctors at the center — part of the Department of Anesthesiology — discovered that when volunteers were busy listening to and engaging with music, they were distracted from mild pain. The study results were published in the December issue of the provocatively named Journal of Pain.

Researcher David Bradshaw, who also is a musician, found that his headaches were usually forgotten when he practiced music. He wondered if others experienced the same thing.

He got four of his colleagues — Gary Donaldson, Robert Jacobsen, Yoshio Nakamura and C. Richard Chapman — to help him answer the question.

They introduced a painful stimulation to the fingertips of 153 volunteers, then recorded the reactions.

The volunteers then listened to simple melodies and tones through a headset. They were asked to tell the researchers when those melodies deviated from what was expected. The music they listened to was developed by Miguel Chuaqui, chairman of the composition program at the U. School of Music.

When the volunteers were busy listening to and engaging with music, they were distracted from the pain they felt in their fingertips, the research showed.

"Pain has a psychological component. The more you think about your pain, the more pain you have," said Carlene J. Brown, an associate professor of music and director of the music-therapy program at Seattle Pacific University. "Anything that can interrupt that [decreases] pain."


story continues below
story continues below

Brown is a classical pianist, and — much like Bradshaw — she said she loses herself in playing.

She and Bradshaw say there is no single piece of music that will help all people.

Heavy metal music does "rev people up," Bradshaw said, and it can be useful for "sharp, acute, intense pain, in an invasive procedure."

But usually music that is personal and "takes you away" is best for alleviating pain.

dburger@sltrib.comFacebook.com/sltribmusic



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.