Music Therapy Increases Comfort and Reduces Pain in Patients Recovering from Spine Surgery


American Journal of Orthopedics




The treatment of pain continues to gain in saliency as a component of defining best practice in medical care. Music therapy is an integrative treatment modality that impacts patient outcomes in the treatment of spinal pain. At Mount Sinai Beth Israel, we conducted a mixed-methods study addressing the effects of music therapy interventions on the recovery of patients after spine surgery. The study combined standard medical approaches and integrative music therapy. Sixty patients (35 female, 25 male) ranging in age from 40 to 55 years underwent anterior, posterior, or anterior-posterior spinal fusion and were randomly assigned to either music therapy plus standard care (medical and nursing care with scheduled pharmacologic pain intervention) or standard care only. Measurements for both groups were completed before and after the intervention. Music therapy involved the use of patient-preferred live music that supported tension release/relaxation through incentive-based clinical improvisation, singing, and/or rhythmic drumming or through active visualization supported by live music that encompasses tension resolution. The control and music groups showed significant differences in degree and direction of change in the visual analog scale (VAS) pain ratings from before to after intervention (P = .01). VAS pain levels increased slightly in the control group (to 5.87 from 5.20) but decreased by more than 1 point in the music group (to 5.09 from 6.20). The control and music therapy groups did not differ in the rate of change in scores on Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) Anxiety (P = .62), HADS Depression (P = .85), or Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia (P = .93). Both groups had slight increases in HADS Anxiety, comparable decreases in HADS Depression, and minimal changes in fear-related movement (Tampa scale).

Music and Health Institute Terms

Anxiety; Anxiety Scales; Depression; Discomfort; Fear; Fear Scales; Hospital Setting; Hospitalized Patients; Live Music Listening; Mood Scales; Music Listening; Music Therapy; Music and Imagery; Music in Combination with Other Techniques; Orthopedic Surgery; Pain; Pain Management and Control; Pain Score or Rating; Playing an Instrument; Postoperative Pain; Postoperative Patients; Receptive Music Methods; Recreative Music Methods; Relaxation; Self-Report Measures; Singing a Song; Surgery; Surgical Patients; Tension; Visual Analog Scale (VAS)

Indexed Terms

Pain Management; Pain Measurement; Postoperative Pain; Postoperative Complications; Spinal Fusion; Spine; Stress

Study Type

Mixed Methods

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