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New study discovers a pain killer without side effect.

Nov. 26, 2015|986 views
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Intriguing new research shows that listening to music before, during, and/or after surgery may significantly boost recovery, and may even reduce one’s need for pain medication. Given the epidemic of opiate addiction that’s been plaguing communities across the country, anything that decreases the need to prescribe potent opioid painkiller medications after surgical procedures is undoubtedly a good thing.

Published in the influential medical journal, The Lancet, the study consisted of a meta-analysis; a comprehensive statistical review comparing results from numerous studies of various designs, all of which addressed the use of music before, during, or after surgery of any type. Results obtained from nearly 7,000 patients across 72 trials were considered, and investigators looked specifically at post-surgical recovery. Patients who listened to music reported being significantly less anxious, having less pain, and “greater satisfaction.” Incidents consisting of music before, during and after surgery were considered. All seemed to help more than no music at all. But patients who experienced music right before surgery fared slightly better.

Even among patients who were effectively unconscious during surgery, due to general anesthesia, there was a slight improvement in pain scores when music was played during their surgical procedures, investigators found. Lead author, Dr Catherine Meads, of Brunel University, appears to consider music a no-brainer for elective surgery. "More than 51 million operations are performed every year in the USA and around 4.6 million in England,” she noted in a press release. “Music is a non-invasive, safe, cheap intervention that should be available to everyone undergoing surgery. Patients should be allowed to choose the type of music they would like to hear to maximize the benefit to their wellbeing.”bHer only caveat? “Care needs to be taken that music does not interfere with the medical team's communication.”

In a related commentary, Dr Paul Glasziou from Bond University, Queensland, Australia noted that music is inexpensive to obtain and easy to supply. If a new drug offered lower pain, and less risk of addiction, it would undoubtedly garner extensive marketing and media attention, he noted. Have you ever experienced music before or during surgery? What did you think? I’d love to hear about your experience.

Jenny Hole, Martin Hirsch, Elizabeth Ball, Catherine Meads. Music as an aid for postoperative recovery in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60169-6