Thursday, July 25, 2013

Anxious? In Pain? Try Music

It's been almost a year since my bike wreck. I'm happy to say that there are no lingering effects from my fractured arm or dental injuries, and in another five months, I'll have replenished my emergency funds.

I'm not quite as pleased to say I'm observing the near-anniversary with a badly stubbed toe. A day and a half ago, I was watering the pots when I tripped over the old, rotted steps I disconnected from the house and stubbed my toe on the brand new steps I built. It still hurts. It hurts more than the fractured arm did. It's almost as bad as turf toe.

It really hurts when I stand. It hurts a lot less when I elevate my foot and rub the bottom of it or elevate it and listen to music. I was at work and in too much pain to go down and get coffee when I put on Alice Cooper and suddenly--no pain. It's just one more reason to love Alice Cooper.

I noticed the same thing back in 2007 when I was infected, recovering from a car wreck and had GI problems. Some researchers at the University of Utah recently studied pain and music(1) and found that certain personality types can mitigate pain with music--anxious people and people who get absorbed in tasks. I don't think I'm anxious, but when I'm busy, people sometimes have to shout at me to get my attention. That's how I feel right now, writing and listening to Nightmare (the Japanese band, not the song): my mind is occupied. I don't feel my foot. An article in Science News says,

Music helps reduce pain by activating sensory pathways that compete with pain pathways, stimulating emotional responses, and engaging cognitive attention. Music, therefore, provided meaningful intellectual and emotional engagement to help reduce pain.(2)

Singing along might really load up the pathways, but I don't think coworkers want to hear me singing "shake it like a bad girl up in Harlem."

  1. "Individual Differences in the Effects of Music Engagement on Responses to Painful Stimulation" by David H. Bradshaw, Gary W. Donaldson, Robert C. Jacobson, Yoshio Nakamura, and C. Richard Chapman. The Journal of Pain, December 2011, pp 1262-1273.
  2. "Listening to Music Can Be Effective for Reducing Pain in High-Anxiety Persons." Science News January 9, 2012.


lucidinterval said...

Good thoughts. I use smooth jazz or blues to mellow out while driving. I also, stopped listening to politics on the radio.

Lowcarb team member said...

Yes, I do think music can be quite "powerful". It can help you relax, chill out even give you more energy as we pursue a mundane task. Of course music choice is a personal choice and what a wide choice there is.

However, was sorry to hear about your toe and hope it improves soon.

All the best Jan

TJ said...

A double shot of Alice in the morning makes me feel better that all the Prozac in Southern California ever could. For your listening pleasure,
two from "Love it to Death":

Lori Miller said...

Thanks, everyone. I'll watch the videos when I get home, TJ.

I got a pleasant dose of Glenn Miller at the coffee shop this morning.