Music as an Adjunct to Opioid-Based Analgesia

J Med Toxicol. 2017 Sep;13(3):249-254. doi: 10.1007/s13181-017-0621-9. Epub 2017 Jun 23.


Epidemic increases in opioid use in the USA and globally highlight the need for effective adjunctive therapies to opioid-based analgesia. Given the shortcomings of behavioral adjuncts to opioid-based pain treatment, an urgent need exists for pain-related behavioral interventions that resonate with broad patient populations, can be delivered confidentially in any environment, and can incorporate new content automatically. Understanding the potential for automated behavioral therapies like music therapy in modulating the experience of pain may unlock methods to transition patients to lower doses of pharmacologic therapy or provide alternatives to opioids during acute exacerbations of pain. This manuscript describes the neurologic mechanism of action, theoretical basis, and potential applications of personalized music as a smartphone-based mHealth intervention for acute and chronic pain management.

Keywords: Behavioral medicine; Music; Opioids; Pain; mHealth.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Pain / diagnosis
  • Acute Pain / physiopathology
  • Acute Pain / prevention & control*
  • Acute Pain / psychology
  • Affect
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Chronic Pain / diagnosis
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology
  • Chronic Pain / prevention & control*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications
  • Music Therapy / instrumentation
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Pain Management / adverse effects
  • Pain Management / instrumentation
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Perception / drug effects
  • Pain Threshold / drug effects
  • Patient Care Team
  • Smartphone
  • Telemedicine / instrumentation
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics, Opioid