How to Heal Faster After Surgery: Listen to Music

Want to know how to heal faster after surgery? Listening to music can help to reduce your pain, anxiety, and pain medication use.

how to heal faster after surgery

Listening to music might just help to calm your nerves, take your mind off your pain, and help you to feel better faster.

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Recovery from surgery can be a long process. Pain, discomfort, fatigue, and anxiety can last a long time and require a lot of patience. But if you want to know how to heal faster after surgery, one tip is as simple and easy as it gets: listen to music.

Listening to Music Reduces Pain, Anxiety, and Medication Use After Surgery

Many people find music to be relaxing; it helps to calm you during times of stress and takes your mind off of something that’s bothering you. In fact, music has so many mental and physical health benefits that there is an entire field called music therapy. It isn’t surprising, then, that music can help when you have to go through surgery, something that can be a very stressful situation for both mind and body.

Research on How to Heal Faster After Surgery

Several studies have confirmed this idea. In one, patients undergoing open-heart surgery benefited from 30 minutes of music after the surgery, showing significant reductions in pain intensity compared to a group that did not listen to music.[1]

The journal Lancet published a study in August 2015 that reviewed 73 randomized controlled trials looking at the effects of music during the postoperative period. The results of the study showed that listening to music after surgery significantly reduced postoperative pain, anxiety, and analgesia (pain medication) use.[2]

Listen to Music Before Surgery, Too

Music doesn’t just help after the surgery; it can be helpful before and during as well. The Lancet study also found that music played before, during, and after the surgery was even more effective in reducing pain, anxiety, and analgesia use than music played simply after the surgery alone.[2]

This can be especially effective for surgeries where the patient must be awake during a sometimes scary procedure; patients undergoing awake craniotomy (brain surgery), for example, found that listening to music during the procedure helped them to feel more at ease and less anxious, and they said that the music helped take their mind off of both their physical and emotional distress.[3]

Request Music for Any Upcoming Surgeries

The authors of the Lancet study concluded, “We believe that sufficient research has been done to show that music should be available to all patients undergoing operative procedures.”[2] So if you have a surgery scheduled, be sure to bring along some of your favorite music and a comfy pair of headphones. Listening to music might just help to calm your nerves, take your mind off your pain, and help you to feel better faster.

Some of the other benefits of listening to music include fighting depression, keeping the heart healthy, and helping people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. (Read more about music therapy for dementia here.)

Share Your Experience

Do you have any tips on how to heal faster after surgery? What strategies have you used to help your mind and your body recover after a surgical procedure? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

This article was originally published in 2015. It is regularly updated.

[1] Nurs Midwifery Stud. 2014 Sep;3(3):e20213.

[2] Lancet. 2015 Aug 12. pii: S0140-6736(15)60169-6.

[3] Can J Neurol Sci. 2015 Jan;42(1):7-16.

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UHN Staff

University Health News is produced by the award-winning editors and authors of Belvoir Media Group’s Health & Wellness Division. Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., with editorial offices in Florida, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, … Read More

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