Music for pain management

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It is nothing new to say that music is reflective of and affects one’s mood. When we’re going through a break-up, we hug our pillows and belt out All By Myself with Celine Dion, preferably off-key. Then, we get pissed and rage clean to Alanis’s You Oughta Know. After that, you’re back to somber introspection with Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Quittin’ Time. Next, we move on to irritated vengefulness and trying to remind ourselves of how the ex sucks with thoughts like, “Who the fuck does he think he is?” and “And you know another thing that was fucking annoying about him?” while we listen to Ben Folds’ Song for the Dumped. Then, finally, one day we find ourselves happy again, dancing badly around our home to Groove is in the Heart.
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Not only does music affect our moods, it can also aid in pain management and reduction. Plenty of other fellow spoonies are already aware of this technique, but I wanted to share my own experiences with it.

I’ve always loved music and singing, and have always used music to alter or enhance my mood. If I need a self-esteem boost, I’ll play Amanda Palmer’s In My Mind. If I need to psych myself up for something, Sara Bareilles’ Brave is playing. If I want to maintain my happy mood, you may hear Nickel Creek or Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog coming out of my phone.

Yesterday, I needed some soothing music while I folded laundry. I wasn’t particularly agitated, but as I mentioned yesterday, my feet and legs have been in horrible pain. My hope was that the music would help me maintain a calm self, focused on the music, rather than the pain. I found the New Age Yoga station on Songza and allowed myself to become immersed in the gentle rhythms and be touched by the cool, wistful notes.
As I listened and folded underwear, I remained tranquil. I don’t feel as though I was in a meditative or hypnotic state, but any thoughts that turned toward the things I needed to do and the future were slow, almost suspended lightly in my mind. I was physically affected as well. I had always assumed that all people had the same reaction to soft music or voices, having their hair brushed or washed at a salon, or to a gentle touch. A tingling sensation starts in my scalp. The cool tingling trickles its way down my body into my shoulders, arms, legs and, occasionally, into my bathing suit area. It continues as long as the stimulus continues, causing me to shiver with the most wonderful feeling. Well, apparently not everyone experiences that sensation. Furthermore, it has a name: autonomous sensory meridian response. ASMR is also referred to as “brain orgasms“. As the Mental Floss article suggests, this music ended up being tantamount to porn. No doubt, this pleasurable feeling caused the release of endorphins, which are known to be responsible for elevating mood and ameliorating pain.

This is definitely a technique I plan on using in the future. It allowed me to finish my task, with minimal pain.

Do you use music for pain management? Which type of music do you find most helpful?

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