Music Therapy Reduces Fibromyalgia Pain and Depression

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • A study conducted by Spanish researchers at the University of Granada has shown that music therapy combined with other relaxation techniques based on guided imagery significantly reduces pain, depression and anxiety, and improves sleep among patients suffering from fibromyalgia – thus enhancing patients' quality of life.

    This pioneer experimental study has shown that these two techniques enhance the well-being and personal power of patients with fibromyalgia who are allowed to take part in their treatment.

    Study Design and Results

    Sixty patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia were randomly assigned to either a music intervention group or a control group.  Members of the music intervention group listened to music once a day for 4 consecutive weeks using two types of CDs.

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    The researchers applied a relaxation technique based on guided imagery and music therapy to patients, in a series of sessions conducted by a researcher.  Patients were given a CD to listen at home.  Then, researchers measured a number of variables associated with the main symptoms of fibromyalgia – pain intensity, quality of life, impact of the condition on patient's daily life, sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, self-efficiency, and well-being.  Then, patients were given the chance to participate in their own treatment.

    Participants were tested at the beginning of the study, after four weeks, and again after eight weeks.  The treatment group reported a significant reduction in pain and depression at week four compared with the control group.  Members of the control group reported no differences in pain.

    According to University of Granada researchers, the art of relaxation with guided imagery and receptive music therapy could be considered effective in the alternative symptomatic treatment of this condition. The low cost, easy implementation and the fact that patients can get involved in their treatment at home are some of the advantages of this technique.

    Researchers state that "further empirical research studies are needed to address other physiological variables associated with the well-being generated by these two techniques and analyze patients' self-efficiency and personal power to get involved in their own treatment.”

    My Thoughts...

    I'm always happy to learn about new and different complementary therapies that may help reduce some of the symptoms of FM.  While I'm grateful for the medications we now have available to treat fibromyalgia, I don't know of anyone who has gotten their FM under control just by taking a pill – or a whole handful of pills for that matter.  It almost always takes a combination of things, including complementary (also called 'alternative') therapies. 

    We know that stress and tension can increase our pain levels, as can focusing on or anticipating the pain.  We also know that certain types of music can have a very powerful calming effect on people.  So it makes sense to me that combining the right kind of music with guided imagery, which helps teach us to focus on something other than our pain, would result in an improvement of symptoms. 

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    María Dolores Onieva-Zafra, et al. Effect of Music as Nursing Intervention for People Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Pain Management Nursing, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.pmn.2010.09.004.
    University of Granada (2011, May 26). Music therapy relieves fibromyalgia symptoms and improves patients’ quality of life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 29, 2011, from­ /releases/2011/05/110526091248.htm


Published On: May 28, 2011