Tones for Chronic Pain


By: Erin Stair, MD, MPH

So while the research for the effectiveness of sound therapy, binaural acoustics,etc. needs to catch up to the subjective results, I have stumbled upon a new study suggesting binaural beats are effective for chronic pain. I also posted this summary in our newsletter, so if this is old news, I apologize.  Not everyone is a subscriber.

This particular issue ( chronic pain) is very interesting, because billions of dollars are spent on pain medication every year, so it would be wonderful to find viable alternatives.  One thing that is starving for research is the protocol for therapeutic acoustics. The binaural programs offered on iTunes usually drown out the tones ( the active therapeutic component), making the tunes simply aesthetically-pleasing musical arrangements.  Also, how long and how often one should listen to the sounds needs more research, as does the exact sequence in which sounds should be arranged.

Anyway, here’s the summary of the latest study I found:

A recent study published in the Altern. There. Health Med journal tested the effectiveness of binaural acoustic arrangements on chronic pain. 36 adults with various types of chronic pain were recruited into the study, and the average participant age was 47. The study was conducted in Richmond, Va. Participants were then divided into two groups: One group listened to a placebo sound arrangement. The other group listened to binaural beats at the theta frequency ( the same frequency we use in our Stress Relief ZENTones.) Participants listened to his/her designated recording for 20mins/day for two weeks.

At the end of the trial, mean scores on the West Haven-Yale Multidimensional Pain Inventory ( MPI) decreased 77% more for the group listening to the binaural beats ( M=4.6 to M = 2.76) than the group listening to the placebo ( M=4.60 to M=4.17). The authors concluded that listening to the binaurally-arranged frequencies was effective in reducing perceived pain.

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