Patients recovering from back surgery often struggle with pain and anxiety, but new research shows that music therapy may help ease their discomfort.
Medication is commonly used to manage pain for people who’ve had surgery to treat a spinal problem.
For the new study, researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City provided 30 patients who’d had spinal fusion surgery with a 30-minute music therapy session within 72 hours of their operation. The therapy included singing, rhythmic drumming and live music. It helped patients relax and eased their tension, the researchers said, adding that the therapy was used in combination with standard care.
Another group of 30 spine surgery patients received only standard care after their procedure and didn’t receive music therapy.
All of the patients in the study were between 40 and 55 years old.
“This study is unique in its quest to integrate music therapy in medicine to treat post-surgical pain,” lead author John Mondanaro, clinical director of The Louis Armstrong Department of Music Therapy, said in a Mount Sinai news release.
“Postoperative spine patients are at major risk for pain management challenges,” he added.
The researchers had patients rate their pain both before and after the music therapy.
People who didn’t receive music therapy reported slight increases in pain, but, those who participated in the music sessions experienced a decline in their discomfort, the study found.
“The degree of change in the music group is notable for having been achieved by non-pharmacologic means with little chance of adverse effects,” said study co-author Joanne Loewy, who directs The Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine.
“Pain is subjective and personal, and warrants an individualized approach to care. Certified, licensed music therapists are able to tailor treatment to each patient’s musical preferences and meet their pain level,” she said.
Results of the study were published recently in The American Journal of Orthopedics.