• Press Release

Music Therapy Reduces Pain in Spine Surgery Patients

  • New York, NY
  • (March 27, 2017)

Music therapy has been found to decrease pain in patients recovering from spine surgery, compared to a control group of patients who received standard postoperative care alone. The study, published in The American Journal of Orthopedics, included a team of researchers from The Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine and the Mount Sinai Department of Orthopaedics. About 70 percent of people in the United States experience at least one episode of back pain in their lifetime, and more than 5 million are temporarily or permanently disabled by spinal disorders.

"This study is unique in its quest to integrate music therapy in medicine to treat post-surgical pain" said John Mondanaro, the study's lead author and Clinical Director of The Louis Armstrong Department of Music Therapy. “Postoperative spine patients are at major risk for pain management challenges.”

Visual analog scale (VAS) pain ratings were collected before and after music therapy in the experimental group and within the same time period in the control group. In the control group, VAS pain levels increased slightly, from 5.20 to 5.87. In the experimental group, however, VAS pain levels decreased by more than one point, from 6.20 to 5.09.

“The degree of change in the music group is notable for having been achieved by non-pharmacologic means with little chance of adverse effects,” said Joanne Loewy, DA, co-author of the study and Director of The Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine. “Pain is subjective and personal, and warrants an individualized approach to care. Certified, licensed music therapists are able to tailor treatment to each patient’s musical preferences and meet their pain level.”

Music therapists from the Louis Armstrong Center provided treatment options to each patient, including patient-preferred, live music that supported tension release/relaxation and joint singing and/or rhythmic drumming. Breathwork and visualization techniques were also offered.  

Postoperative pain treatment, which is primarily pharmacologic, is a critical component of recovery, particularly during the immediate postoperative period, when pain and anxiety are prominently increased. For this study, researchers provided 30 spine surgery patients with a 30-minute music therapy session within 72 hours after surgery in addition to standard care. Another 30 spine surgery patients received standard postoperative care without music therapy. The 60 patients ranged in age from 40 to 55 years and underwent anterior, posterior, or anterior-posterior spinal fusion.

About the Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine
The Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine is made possible by a generous gift from the David B. Kriser Foundation and through the estate of John H. Slade, directed to Mount Sinai Beth Israel from the late hospital trustee Richard Netter, and with additional support from the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, the Helen Sawaya, Heather on Earth, and the Garry Dial Fund, among others. The Center is located at Mount Sinai Downton-Union Square, 10 Union Square East (between 14th and 15th Streets) in Manhattan.

Find more information about the Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine at www.musicandmedicine.org or on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest integrated delivery system encompassing seven hospital campuses, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai's vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The System includes approximately 6,600 primary and specialty care physicians; 10 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools", aligned with a U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" Hospital, No. 13 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 18 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Nephrology, and Neurology/Neurosurgery, and in the top 50 in six other specialties in the 2018-2019 "Best Hospitals" issue. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 11th nationally for Ophthalmology and 44th for Ear, Nose, and Throat, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's and Mount Sinai West are ranked regionally.

For more information, visit https://www.mountsinai.org or find Mount Sinai on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.