This is my growing compilation of research showcasing the mechanisms and outcomes of this world-respected, evidence-based modality, emerging on the mainstream.
A Compilation of Research Results and Theoretical Mechanisms for Treatment of Pain
- Naghdi L, Ahonen H, Macario P, Bartel L. The effect of low-frequency sound stimulation on patients with fibromyalgia: a clinical study. Pain Res Manag. 2015 Jan-Feb;20(1):e21-7. Doi: 10.1155/2015/375174. Epub 2014 Dec 29. PMID: 25545161; PMCID: PMC4325896.
Results: Significant improvements were observed with median scores: Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, 81% (P<0.0001); Jenkins Sleep Scale, 90% (P<0.0001); and Pain Disability Index, 49.1% (P<0.0001). Medication dose was reduced in 73.68% of patients and completely discontinued in 26.32%. Time sitting and standing without pain increased significantly (P<0.0001). Cervical muscle range of motion increased from 25% to 75% (P=0.001), while muscle tone changed from hypertonic to normal (P=0.0002).
Conclusion: In the present study, the LFSS treatment showed no adverse effects and patients receiving the LFSS treatment showed statistically and clinically relevant improvement. Further phase 2 and 3 trials are warranted.
- Campbell, E., Hynynen, J., Burger, B., & Ala-Ruona, E. (2019). Exploring the use of Vibroacoustic treatment for managing chronic pain and comorbid mood disorders : A mixed methods study. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 28(4), 291-314. https://doi.org/10.1080/08098131.2019.1604565
Conclusions: Quantitative outcomes suggest VA treatment is beneficial for pain and mood relief and that a self-care intervention has the potential to prolong positive outcomes. Qualitative findings suggest that patients found the sessions at the hospital useful and empowering but the self-care treatments comparatively weak.
Discussion: Future studies may address the difficulty in conducting self-care and the importance of the client-practitioner relationship in supporting this activity for those suffering from chronic pain and comorbid mood disorders.
- Patrick G. The effects of vibroacoustic music on symptom reduction. IEEE Eng Med Biol Mag. 1999 Mar-Apr;18(2):97-100. Doi: 10.1109/51.752987. PMID: 10101674. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10101674/
Results: The intensity of symptoms was reduced from pre to post by the following percentages; nausea 61%; headache, 58%; tension-anxiety, 54%; pain, 53%; depressed mood, 49% and fatigue, 47%. A one-sample t-test (pre-post) was performed and all the results were statistically significant at P<0.0001
- Goldsby TL, Goldsby ME, McWalters M, Mills PJ. Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood, Tension, and Well-being: An Observational Study. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Jul;22(3):401-406. Doi: 10.1177/2156587216668109. Epub 2016 Sep 30. PMID: 27694559; PMCID: PMC5871151. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27694559/
- Boyd-Brewer C, McCaffrey R. Vibroacoustic sound therapy improves pain management and more. Holist Nurs Pract. 2004 May-Jun;18(3):111-8; quiz 118-9. Doi: 10.1097/00004650-200405000-00002. PMID: 15222599. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15222599/
Theory: Three possible explanations for the positive effects of vibroacoustics are the following:
- Vibroacoustic music sessions trigger the relaxation response with benefits for pain and symptom reduction as well as tension, fatigue, headache, nausea, and depression
- Stimulation of the Pacinian corpuscle at frequencies between 60 Hz and 600 Hz creates neuronal inhibition of pain
- Vibration may assist in cellular cleansing mechanisms with possible positive effects on health and illness
- Bartel, Lee, and Abdullah Mosabbir. 2021. “Possible Mechanisms for the Effects of Sound Vibration on Human Health” Healthcare 9, no. 5: 597. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare9050597
Theory: This paper presents a narrative review of research literature to “map the landscape” of the mechanisms of the effect of sound vibration on humans including the physiological, neurological, and biochemical. It begins by narrowing music to sound and sound to vibration. The focus is on low frequency sound (up to 250 Hz) including infrasound (1–16 Hz). Types of application are described and include whole body vibration, vibroacoustics, and focal applications of vibration. Literature on mechanisms of response to vibration is categorized into hemodynamic, neurological, and musculoskeletal. Basic mechanisms of hemodynamic effects including stimulation of endothelial cells and vibropercussion; of neurological effects including protein kinases activation, nerve stimulation with a specific look at vibratory analgesia, and oscillatory coherence; of musculoskeletal effects including muscle stretch reflex, bone cell progenitor fate, vibration effects on bone ossification and resorption, and anabolic effects on spine and intervertebral discs.
- Zhou W, Ye C, Wang H, Mao Y, Zhang W, Liu A, Yang CL, Li T, Hayashi L, Zhao W, Chen L, Liu Y, Tao W, Zhang Z. Sound induces analgesia through corticothalamic circuits. Science. 2022 Jul 8;377(6602):198-204. Doi: 10.1126/science.abn4663. Epub 2022 Jul 7. PMID: 35857536; PMCID: PMC9636983.
Findings: Our study reveals the corticothalamic circuits underlying sound-promoted analgesia by deciphering the role of the auditory system in pain processing. Low signal-to-noise-ratio sounds inhibited glutamatergic inputs from the auditory cortex (AcxGlu) to the thalamic posterior (PO) and ventral posterior (VP) nuclei.
- NIH Research Matters. Understanding how sound suppresses pain. July 26, 2022. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/understanding-how-sound-suppresses-pain
POV: “We need more effective methods of managing acute and chronic pain, and that starts with gaining a better understanding of the basic neural processes that regulate pain,” says NIDCR Director Dr. Rena D’Souza. “By uncovering the circuitry that mediates the pain-reducing effects of sound in mice, this study adds critical knowledge that could ultimately inform new approaches for pain therapy.”
- Zeidan F, Vago DR. Mindfulness meditation-based pain relief: a mechanistic account. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016 Jun;1373(1):114-27. Doi: 10.1111/nyas.13153. PMID: 27398643; PMCID: PMC4941786. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4941786/
Theory: Meditation may reduce pain by fine-tuning the amplification of nociceptive sensory events through top-down control processes,15, 21, 23 potentially reflected by the significant attenuation of SI activation corresponding to the stimulation site when subjects meditated during noxious heat when compared to rest (right leg).21 We postulated that mindfulness meditation attenuates pain through engagement of top-down (OFC to thalamus) inhibition of ascending nociceptive information.15, 20, 21, 23 Thus, the cognitive state of mindfulness meditation–based analgesia does not reduce pain through one avenue but rather multiple, unique neural mechanisms.
Conclusions: When taking into consideration the current chronic pain152 and opioid epidemic,153, 154 the use of mind–body approaches, such as mindfulness meditation, may prove to be an important resource to teach patients to self-regulate their respective experience of pain directly with a present-centered and acceptance-based focus. Converging lines of evidence demonstrate that mindfulness meditation significantly attenuates pain across clinical and experimental settings. In contrast to other health outcomes, the health-promoting effects of meditation are most pronounced for pain and pain-related comorbidities, including opioid addiction and misuse,155–158 stress,37, 138 depression,159–161 and anxiety
- Gkolias, V, Amaniti, A, Triantafyllou, A, et al. Reduced pain and analgesic use after acoustic binaural beats therapy in chronic pain – A double-blind randomized control cross-over trial. Eur J Pain. 2020; 24: 1716– 1729. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejp.1615
Results: Perceived pain (NRS) was significantly reduced in binaural beats (BB) intervention (5.6±2.3 to 3.4±2.6, p<0.001), compared to SS (5.2±2.1 to 4.8±2.3, p=0.78), during the first 30-minute phase, as well as at the week’s end (to 3.9±2.5 compared to 5.5±2.6 respectively, p<0.001). The mean EEG theta power at 5Hz was significantly increased only during BB application.
- Park, Jung-Min, Sihwa Park, and Yong-Seok Jee. 2019. “Rehabilitation Program Combined with Local Vibroacoustics Improves Psychophysiological Conditions in Patients with ACL Reconstruction” Medicina 55, no. 10: 659. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina55100659
Conclusions: The results indicate that the LBV intervention mitigated the participants’ pain and symptoms and improved their leg strength and ROM, thus highlighting its effectiveness.
- Lin, C.-L., Hwang, S.-L., Jiang, P. and Hsiung, N.-H. (2020), Effect of Music Therapy on Pain After Orthopedic Surgery—A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Pain Pract, 20: 422-436. https://doi.org/10.1111/papr.12864
Nine randomized controlled trials were selected. (1) Music can relieve pain significantly for both music medicine (MM; SMD = −0.41, 95% CI [−0.75, −0.07], P = 0.02) and music therapy (MT; SMD = −0.31, 95% CI [−0.57, 0.04], P = 0.02). (2) Music chosen by the subjects showed significant differences for both MM (P = 0.002) and MT (P = 0.02). (3) Anxiety improved significantly among patients using MT (SMD = 0.44, 95% CI [−0.75, −0.13], P = 0.005).
- Jain S, Hammerschlag R, Mills P, Cohen L, Krieger R, Vieten C, Lutgendorf S. Clinical Studies of Biofield Therapies: Summary, Methodological Challenges, and Recommendations. Glob Adv Health Med. 2015 Nov;4(Suppl):58-66. Doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2015.034.suppl. Epub 2015 Nov 1. PMID: 26665043; PMCID: PMC4654788. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4654788/
Results: A systematic review by Jain and Mills9 that included both RCTs and quasi-experimental studies of biofield therapies applied best-evidence synthesis criteria and suggested that proximally practiced biofield therapies demonstrated strong evidence (evidenced by at least 2 high-quality RCTs and minimal to no conflicting evidence) for reducing self-reported pain intensity (generally measured via the visual analog scale) in a variety of patients, including the elderly and those with chronic pain.
Similar positive findings were reported in a prior independent Cochrane review16 that examined RCTs of biofield therapies for pain and concluded that biofield therapies reduced pain beyond that of sham- and no-treatment controls.
Theory: it is unclear whether biofield therapy amelioration of pain could be mediated by “bottom-up” processes, such as reductions in cellular inflammation or nociceptive signaling and/or “top-down” processes such as cortical nociceptive control mechanisms. Experimental studies examining the effects of biofield therapies on known objective pain pathways would also be helpful at this juncture.
- Vlahovic, Zeljko. The burden of lower back pain: Sound massage for a relaxed back. European Association of Sound Massage Therapy. December 2017. www.fachverband-klang.de
Theory: Stress is a primary cause of back pain. As a study conducted by the European Professional Association for Sound Massage Therapy with more than 200 participants were able to show, regular sound massages promote positive ways to manage stress and increase the feeling of Wellbeing in and with your own body (Koller/ Grotz, 2010).
Actions: If you suffer from back pain, sound massage may: • enable a sense of wellbeing • induce relaxation • affect the autonomic nervous system in the form of a parasympathetic response • regulate muscle tension – especially striated musculature • facilitate reduction of muscle tone in smooth muscles • stimulate perfusion and lymph flow and thereby also metabolism • relax connective tissue / fasciae • reduce pain • promote body image • increase motivation.
- Gaynor, M. (2002). The Healing Power of Sound. Boston: Shambhala.
POV: “I help my clients through the stresses of cancer therapy to achieve equanimity and optimism. I am not a miracle worker. I am a medical oncologist who has chosen to use the medium of sound as an integral part of my approach to healing and wellness. I don’t consider the work I do with sound, meditation, and imagery as a complement to oncology, my healing work has become as important. I am convinced that the use of healing with sound will soon become standard practice for many physicians and healthcare professionals.”
- Gibson, David. The Complete Guide to Sound Healing. Sound of Light, 2022. ISBN: 9780615888354
POV: “Sound is extremely effective for relieving pain and with a bit of research, the potential is huge. I believe that very soon sound will be the norm for pain management in hospitals around the world. Not only is it effective, but there are no side effects in the least.”
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