Even when spine surgery goes well, the recovery period can have its ups and downs. This is especially true during the early stages of healing. It’s understandable for patients to look for ways to stop thinking too much about post-surgery discomfort. There are many ways to accomplish this goal, including watching favorite TV shows and movies or spending time with friends. According to a new study, listening to music may be one of the more effective forms of distraction for patients recovering from spine surgery. Santa Monica spine experts explain why.
Music Therapy for Pain Relief
The idea that music can be therapeutic for people living with ongoing pain isn’t new. Music therapy was first used to soothe soldiers returning from World War II who were experiencing shell shock. Today, many pain centers use music to help patients manage chronic pain due to conditions like cancer. For the study, researchers compared the recovery experiences of those who were undergoing standard post-op therapy following spine surgery and those who had music therapy.
Healing After Fusion Surgery
The study involved patients between the ages of 40 and 55 who had some type of spinal fusion surgery, the most common form of spine surgery performed in the United States. Half of the participants had music therapy, and the others relied solely on traditional rehab methods. In addition to standard rehab, subjects in the music group also:
- Participated in 30-minute music therapy sessions within 3 days following their surgery
- Listened to their own preferred music
- Had sessions that included joint singing and rhythmic drumming
- Performed breathing and visualization exercises
Encouraging Results with Music Therapy
Researchers asked all subjects to self-report their post-surgery discomfort on a pain scale. Those in the traditional rehab group reported a slight increase in pain, while those in the music group reported a noticeable decrease in pain. It’s notable that the decrease was achieved without the need for additional medication.
While pain is highly subjective, the findings of this study make a compelling case for exploring pain management techniques that may ease dependence on pain meds. This is significant because of the growing concern about addiction that can develop from a reliance on pain drugs. In general, music therapy may help patients control their pain by:
- Reducing the perception of pain
- Promoting relaxation and easing stress
- Enhancing overall mood and outlook
Listening to enjoyable music has always been a pleasant escape. What is most promising is the ability to include music therapy with other forms of pain management to enhance the patient experience following spine surgery. There are no standard recommendations for how to incorporate music therapy, although there are more than 5,000 music therapists working in various facilities in the United States, so it’s easily accessible. Of course, patients can always engage in their own type of music therapy and bring their iPods along to their next physical therapy session or play favorite tunes at home when pain becomes too distracting.
Though music can be helpful post-recovery, it’s important to make sure you receive the ideal procedure for alleviating your spine pain. At The Spine Institute Center, we specialize in a wide array of spinal procedures, from dynamic stabilization to lumbar disc replacement. Santa Monica residents can schedule an in-person evaluation at The Spine Institute by calling 310-828-7757 today.