Music has always served as a great distraction from work, responsibilities, and problems, but according to a new study published in The Journal of Pain, it can also serve as a distraction from pain. In fact, it is especially effective for individuals who suffer from high anxiety.
The researchers' hypothesis was that music can divert your focus from pain to something more appealing--like a song from your favorite playlist, for example. To test their theory, they had 143 participants listen to a number of music tracks and, at the same time, track deviant tones. During this experiment, the subjects were also zapped with experimental but safe pain shocks through fingertip electrodes.
Amazingly, the results revealed that the volunteers’ central stimuli for pain decreased as the music tasks demanded more of their attention. Researchers believe that listening to music actually allows sensory pathways to activate and overrule many of the pain pathways. Highly anxious individuals who can become easily absorbed in their activities have the highest effectiveness rate. If you could find a way to adopt the same mental focus, then you may be able to increase your own tolerance.
Remember, though, that feeling pain is an early warning that something could be wrong, so if you’re feeling any pain at all, it's important to consult a medical expert. No matter how awesome your playlist may be, you should never risk your life or safety, just because you think you can ride out the pain. Still, the next time you have dysmenorrhea or have to get a flu shot, perhaps you should consider pulling out your music player.
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(Photo by amminopurr via sxc.hu)