A music therapist will use music to facilitate behavioural changes, by allowing patients to use a variety of musical instruments. Then, the therapist will engage in discussions about the patient’s musical interaction, allowing the patient to express his/her feelings with the aid of musical interaction. The main aim of music therapy is to determine how patients respond emotionally to music, and improve cognitive functioning and quality of life.
How Does This Apply to Fibromyalgia
Researchers examined the effects of music therapy on fibromyalgia, and found that music therapy, combined with relaxation techniques, reduced pain and depression, along with improving sleep for fibromyalgia patients.
If music is able to reduce muscle tension, then possibly the muscle pain experienced in fibromyalgia may decrease. Additionally, if music interventions do decrease the release of stress hormones, then most of the emotional and anxiety symptoms of fibromyalgia may decrease. There is also evidence that music improves mood and stress, and it may also increase one’s immunity.
Sixty FM patients were assigned to either a music group or a control group. The participants of the music group listened to music (duh!) daily for 4 weeks, and were assigned to listen to two types of music. They were also taught relaxation techniques, and the combination of relaxation techniques and music therapy significantly decreased pain intensity and improved quality of life. After 4 weeks, participants of the music intervention group reported a significant decrease in their pain levels, while participants of the control group experienced no change in pain and/or quality of life.
Researchers state that musical interventions decrease cortisol and endorphins, which are markers of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (responsible for release of stress hormones), along with decreasing levels of cortisol, prolactin, ACTH, growth hormone, and norepinephrine levels. Music initiates brain responses that reduce muscle tension, heart rate, and skin conductance.
The researchers greatly recommend the combination of music and relaxation for FM patients. However, the efficacy of this combination depends on the patient’s dedication and willpower to be involved in the treatment.
BUT what if our overly sensitized brains can’t even handle music? (Personally) Give me silence any day…ssshhhh!