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Music Therapy for Pain Management

Music Therapy for Pain Management

Feeling pain isn’t just about physical sensations; it also involves how we think and feel. That’s why music therapy doesn’t just involve playing recorded music to distract or calm down. It’s about using personalised, interactive music activities to help manage pain better. This approach considers various factors that can make pain worse or lead to long-term pain issues, like transitioning from short-term to chronic pain.

Music therapists help people of all ages and backgrounds manage pain, whether it’s children going through painful procedures or individuals receiving end-of-life care. They deal with different types of pain, whether it’s short-term, long-term, or related to medical procedures. It’s a big part of their job in medical settings to contribute to effectively managing pain. If pain isn’t treated properly, it can seriously affect a person’s overall well-being, impacting mood, mental health, thinking ability, sleep, physical abilities, and even their trust in the medical system.

According to Brazoloto (2021), using music listening might help relieve pain, although the evidence for this is not very strong. There’s disagreement about whether music therapy has positive or negative effects on pain relief, but there’s some evidence suggesting it provides psychological and humanistic benefits. However, the limited number of studies and different methods used make it challenging to understand the results clearly. This study acknowledges these limitations.

Meanwhile, Redding et al. (2016) report that supporting the use of music therapy to enhance patient comfort is widely practised. It’s easily accessible, safe, and affordable, requiring minimal staff training. Music therapy might decrease the need for sedation and improve overall patient well-being. Nurses at Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center gained insight into evidence-based practices by participating in the study, which increased their involvement in quality improvement efforts. With 87% of patients reporting the effectiveness of music therapy, the pain clinic plans to integrate it into standard care for specific procedures, aiming to reduce pain and anxiety and improve patient satisfaction during treatments.


Interventions Focused objectives
Live music experience
Reduce chronic pain
Relaxation with music
Minimise the impact of pain
Guided Imagery and Music (GIM)
Boost peoples’ confidence in managing their pain
Chanting and singing
Shift the person’s focus away from the pain
Improvising with vocal and instruments
Reduce stress and worry
Lift mood
Using music to redirect your focus
Feel more supported
Playing musical instruments
Finding meaning and understanding in illness
Lyric analysis
Offer assistance during procedures
Foster a sense of empowerment

Music therapy for pain management goes beyond just easing physical discomfort. By using personalised and interactive music activities, music therapists tackle the complex mix of thoughts, feelings, and sensations linked with pain. This approach, supported by evidence-based practises, acknowledges the various factors that contribute to pain experiences and aims to stop the shift from acute to chronic pain.

Music therapy for pain management: conclusion.

In conclusion, music therapy has emerged as a powerful tool for pain management.

Music therapists registered with the Australian Music Therapy Association (AMTA) play a vital role in different healthcare settings, assisting people of all ages and backgrounds in managing pain linked with medical procedures, chronic conditions, and end-of-life care. Their interventions not only improve pain management, but also enhance overall well-being by reducing the widespread effects of untreated pain on mood, mental health, thinking, sleep, physical function, and trust in the healthcare system. 

If you’d like to find out more about Music Therapy please visit the Australian Music Therapy Association’s website.

If you’re interested in exploring music therapy or seeking more information about our music therapy services at Creative Therapy Adelaide, we’re here to help. Don’t hesitate to get in touch on our contact page or give us a call at (08) 7080 4618 to find out more. 


Brazoloto, T. M. (2021, July 15). Review of Musical interventions and music therapy in pain treatment: literature review. Musical interventions and music therapy in pain treatment, 369–373. São Paulo, SP, Brasil. Retrieved 2021, from 

Redding, J., Plaugher, S., Cole, J., Crum, J., Ambrosino, C., Hodge, J., Ladd, L., Garvan, C., & Cowan, L. (2016). “Where’s the Music?” Using Music Therapy for Pain Management. Federal Practitioner, 46–49. 

Rodgers-Melnick, S. N., Lin, L., Gam, K., Souza de Santana Carvalho, E., Jenerette, C., Rowland, D. Y., Little, J. A., Dusek, J. A., Bakshi, N., & Krishnamurti, L. (2022). Effects of music therapy on quality of life in adults with sickle cell disease (MUSIQOLS): A Mixed Methods Feasibility Study. Journal of Pain Research, Volume 15, 71–91. 

Ri Na Yu, Registered Music Therapist

Ri Na Yu, Registered Music Therapist

Rina is a Registered Music Therapist, her focus is on developing emotional well-being, self-expression, and relatedness to others through music. Rina's approach to her work is flexible and tailored to each individual's needs. Her primary instruments are cello and piano.

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