Dutch researchers look into music as alternative for pain treatment

15 August 2016
Recently AMC, also a Dutch university hospital started with an experiment on stress reduction during operations with local anasthesia (reed here). They believe watching a movie with special video glasses or listening to Music while being operated will reduce stress and anxiety levels during the operation and perhaps even improve the recovery process afterwards.

Now researchers from the department of Anesthesiology, Pain and Palliative Care at the Radboudumc (Nijmegen, Netherlands) are looking at the possible positive influence of listening to music from a favorite band during the Lowlands festival. The goal is to determine the best way to use music to reduce pain that patients experience.

Earlier experiments proved that people with severe burns  experienced less pain and anxiety during the changing of bandages when listening to music. How this works isn’t clear yet. The experiments during Lowlands may shed light on this. Visitors are asked to place their hand in a bucket of ice water, receive small electrical shocks and will be exposed to pressure. Then the researchers look into differences in pain experienced while listening to a favorite band or to music the participants don’t like.

In the Netherlands alone 3 million people experience pain on a daily basis. Pain can lengthen the recovery process after an operation, state researchers Hans Timmerman and Monique Steegers. They hope that experiments like during Lowlands can help them develop treatments that people can use themselves. “Music doesn’t have the side effects that medication has. Also people can choose when to listen to music and the kind of music they want to listen to.”

A special tent is available for several experiments during the Lowlands Science in Holland, an initiative funded by among others IBM. Last year Lowlands Science was organised for the first time, with thousands of visitors participating in 10 different experiments.