DENTON, Tex-Music has long been used, albeit unscientifically,
to relax patients in an effort to relieve pain. Now, a researcher
from the University of North Texas College of Music is attempting
an approach to music therapy that involves vibration and appears
to have a neurophysiologic mechanism of action.
In his poster presentation at the 8th World Congress on Pain,
Kris S. Chesky, PhD, said that the technique involves music listening
for psychological effect and, for physiological effect, music-generated
whole-body vibration, with the amplitude and frequency of the
vibrations controlled and measured via a device called the Music
"Animal studies suggest that vibration above 60 Hz has the
potential to decrease the amount of processing in the spinal cord
of pain stimuli, an effect that is mediated chemically through
the neural transmitter adenosine," Dr. Chesky said.
The key is the Pacinian corpuscle, a large vibration-sensitive
mechanoreceptor located throughout the subcutaneous and connective
tissues surrounding visceral organs and joints. This corpuscle
starts to react to frequencies of 60 Hz and above. "Below
that frequency, a different receptor is responding, so frequencies
below 60 Hz can be used as controls in studies of the vibration
table," he said.
Music is not essential for vibration-induced analgesia, as long
as the levels of vibration are in the 60 to 300 Hz frequency range
at amplitudes of less than 100 µm at 100 Hz. However, Dr.
Chesky believes its use is important because it provides variation
to the vibration. This, he says, can decrease patient fatigue
and habituation of Pacinian corpuscle processing, while also making
the vibration meaningful to the patient.
Dr. Chesky's vibration table has been tested in a randomized,
double-blind, placebo-controlled study in fibromyalgia patients
at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Results were favorable, and the study has been accepted for publication
in the Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain.
The technique has also been used on an on-call basis to help relieve
pain in children in sickle cell crisis. Dr. Chesky emphasized
the need for more rigorous controlled clinical trials of the technique.