I came across a journal article by Knussen, MacDonald & Mitchell (2008) studying about the effects of music and art on pain perception. The researchers investigated the effects of preferred music, visual distraction, and silence on the perception of pain. They used a repeated measures design, where 80 participants underwent three trials for the cold pressor with the three conditions; preferred music, preferred painting, and the silence control. The participants were measured of their pain tolerance, pain intensity, perceived control, anxiety, and a listening music patterns questionnaire. Results showed that the preferred music significantly increased the pain tolerance and perceived control and decreased anxiety over the painful stimulus. The visual distraction and control silence both did not show significant differences in the perception of pain as compared to the preferred music condition. Also, this strengthens the proposal on familiarity as important in therapeutic music listening for pain. The experiment showed that the familiarity with the lyrics of the song leads to a higher tolerance for pain.
Music once again surprised me. Its wide range of benefits from making people happy to increasing the tolerance of pain are really impressive. The findings of this study can help a lot of people especially those who are in constant pain. Next time I hit the gym or run, I will bring my ipod and play my favorite Sugarfree songs. The increase in pain tolerance can greatly multiply the gains during my exercise routine. I would not hesitate anymore to always bring my handy ipod because you'll never know what will happen.
Knussen, C., Mitchell, L., & MacDonald, R. (2008). An investigation of the effects of music and art on pain perception. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 2(3), 162-170.