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Listening to Elton John may help manage chronic pain, study suggests

October 29, 2013

Chronic pain caused by conditions such as osteoarthritis is a common part of life for many seniors, but a new study suggests that putting on some classic tunes could help ease the discomfort. Researchers from Lloyds Pharmacy, a chain in the U.K., found that certain songs, including "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel and "Candle in the Wind" by Elton John have the potential to relieve pain, The Telegraph reported.

Lower stress, anxiety
To uncover how beneficial listening to music can be, researchers analyzed its impact on more than 1,500 study participants. In addition to the Simon and Garfunkel and Elton John classics, subjects also listened to "Angels" by Robbie Williams, The Commodores'  "Easy" and "Albatross" by Fleetwood Mac. Researchers found that 41 percent of the patients felt better after listening to music. Pop music performed the best, but classical, rock and indie were all effective as well. Pharmacist Andrew Mawhinney believes the results could have a substantial impact.

"There are lots of different ways of managing pain, not only with medicines but also with lifestyle changes such as moderate exercise and relaxation," Mawhinney told the newspaper. "After speaking to many people who are living with pain we were interested to learn just how many found music beneficial, which is why we're now trialing the use of music within our pain service in some of our pharmacies."

Numerous other benefits
This isn't the first time experts have found compelling evidence suggesting that listening to or playing music could be part of a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Perhaps most importantly, scientists have found that regularly listening to music, whether while walking, driving or relaxing around the house, can act as a way to relieve stress. Scientists from Sweden's University of Gothenburg found that people who listened to music they liked experienced more positive emotions and had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol,  

People who listen to music also have improved heart health. Researchers from the University of Maryland Medical Center discovered that the positive effects of listening to music caused blood vessels to dilate, which increased healthy blood flow. Conversely, if they listened to songs they deemed stressful, participants saw their blood vessels narrow.