A new study is pointing to using music therapy as a way to reduce pain in people recovering from spine surgery. Researchers from The Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine, and the Mount Sinai Department of Orthopaedics compared a group of people recovering from spine surgery using standard postoperative care, to those who complimented that standardized care with music therapy. Their study was published in The American Journal of Orthopedics.
“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 pain was measured using the visual analog scale (VAS), and ratings were collected before and after music therapy in one group, and within the same time period in the control group. In the experimental group, VAS pain ratings decreased by more than one point — from 6.20 down to 5.09. The control group showed increased pain levels, from 5.20 to 5.87.
“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.”
Music therapists from the Louis Armstrong Center provided treatment options to each patient, including patient-preferred, live music that supported tension release/relaxation and joint singing and/or rhythmic drumming. Breathwork and visualization techniques were also offered.
Postoperative pain treatment, which is primarily pharmacologic, is a critical component of recovery, particularly during the immediate postoperative period, when pain and anxiety are prominently increased. For this study, researchers provided 30 spine surgery patients with a 30-minute music therapy session within 72 hours after surgery in addition to standard care. Another 30 spine surgery patients received standard postoperative care without music therapy. The 60 patients ranged in age from 40 to 55 years and underwent anterior, posterior, or anterior-posterior spinal fusion.