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Rhythmically-Enhanced Music as Analgesic for Chronic Pain: a Pilot Non-Controlled Observational Study
* 1 , 2
1  SongRest Independent Research Group
2  Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Assiut, Egypt


Chronic pain changes brain connectivity, brainwave organization, and volume, often resulting in disability, anxiety and depression. Opioid pain relievers impair function, with risk of addiction. Music analgesia research suggests that music for long-term analgesia includes slow tempo, pleasantness, and self-choice. We hypothesized that volunteers listening to self-chosen music with beats embedded, for ½ hour twice a day, could show brainwave entrainment (BWE) at frequencies of healthy descending pain modulatory system (DPMS). Over time such BWE may change brain activity, and restore organization in DPMS altered by chronic pain.

Volunteers with chronic pain > 1year participated in a study of 4 weeks of listening to one half hour of prepared music twice a day, and four weeks of non-listening, reporting pain and analgesic use during the study. Assessments used visual analog scale (VAS) and 0-10 numerical pain scores (NPS), medication types and dosage.

A mobile app provided a menu of 27 half-hour pieces of music in several genres to choose from. Isochronic beats were embedded in the music with tempo, key, and isochronic pulsed theta frequencies proportional to each other, to enhance the brain’s perception of rhythmic patterns and harmonics.

Results: Mean NPS showed a 26% reduction (p = .018). More significantly, mean medication dosage declined by over 60% (p = .008). Larger populations and longer trial periods are needed to determine the efficacy of music vs the music with brainwave beats.

Keywords: chronic pain; music analgesia; brainwaves; isochronic beats