Patients were compared to a control group of patients who received standard postoperative care alone, and it was found that music therapy significantly reduced pain in the experimental group.
‘Music therapy could be used as a non-pharmacological means, with minimal side-effects, to reduce pain associated with spine surgery.’
The study was conducted by a team of researchers from The Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine and the Mount Sinai Department of Orthopaedics.
In the United States, spinal disorders, temporarily or permanently disable around 5 million people and around 70% of people experience at least one episode of back pain in their lifetime.
"This study is unique in its quest to integrate music therapy in medicine to treat post-surgical pain" said John Mondanaro, the study's lead author and Clinical Director of The Louis Armstrong Department of Music Therapy. "Postoperative spine patients are at major risk for pain management challenges."
Postoperative treatment mainly consists of pharmacological management. It is a critical moment of recovery when pain and anxiety are prominently increased.
For the study, 60 spine surgery patients, whose age ranged from 40-55 years were recruited. They had undergone anterior, posterior, or anterior-posterior spinal fusion.
Half of the patients (30) received a 30-minute music therapy session within 72 hours of surgery in addition to standard care and the remaining 30 spine surgery patients received standard postoperative care without music therapy.
Visual analog scale (VAS) pain ratings were collected before and after music therapy in the experimental group and within the same time period in the control group.
The results showed that in the control group, VAS pain levels increased slightly, from 5.20 to 5.87. In the experimental group, however, VAS pain levels decreased by more than one point, from 6.20 to 5.09.
"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 Joanne Loewy, DA, co-author of the study and Director of 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."
Treatment options were provided to each patient by music therapists, that included patient-preferred live music, that supported tension release/relaxation and joint singing and/or rhythmic drumming. Breathwork and visualization techniques were also offered.
The study is published in The American Journal of Orthopedics
- John Mondanaro et al. Music Therapy Increases Comfort and Reduces Pain in Patients Recovering From Spine Surgery. The American Journal of Orthopedics; (2017)