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Music therapy helps relieve pain in adults with sickle cell disease, pilot trial suggests


Music therapy can help ease pain in adults with sickle cell disease (SCD), a pilot study showed. A single session of music improvisation with a music therapist helped significantly diminish the intensity of patients’ pain and uplift their moods, the study noted.

The research, titled “The Effects of a Single Electronic Music Improvisation Session on the Pain of Adults with Sickle Cell Disease: A Mixed Methods Pilot Study,” was published in the Journal of Music Therapy.

Many patients with sickle cell disease, particularly adults, often experience episodes of pain, including acute pain crises, chronic pain, and neuropathic (nerve) pain.

Pain can result from chronic inflammation due to the obstruction of blood circulation by sickled red blood cells. Organ damage and increased sensitivity to pain due to the use of opioids as painkillers also can occur.

Other contributors include psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual factors.