Using sound to manage chronic pain

November 5, 2013, Simon Fraser University
SFU, SIAT graduate student Mark Nazemi is creating "sound walks" that will be tested with chronic pain sufferers while in medical waiting rooms, as a means of reducing stress and potentially improving communication with practitioners.

Women with chronic pain may be more sensitive to sounds than their male counterparts, researchers at Simon Fraser University have found.

The finding emerged as part of a study related to the therapeutic use of music for chronic pain (CP) . SFU lead researcher Mark Nazemi was comparing the sensitivity of chronic pain and healthy controls on a range of audio frequencies.

During the study, the auditory sensitivity of 41 subjects was measured; 23 of them were CP patients. Researchers found that chronic pain patients were more sensitive to sounds than the control group, but that the effect was substantially greater in women suffering from .

"Female CP patients reported greater sensitivity to everyday environmental sounds," says Nazemi, who presented his findings at the European chapter of the International Association for the Study of Pain in Florence last month.

"This tells us that CP-specific acoustic therapies need to be developed. It also suggests that CP patients should be informed about the potential ill effects of loud environmental sounds, and about the possible negative effects of sound on their disorders," Nazemi adds.

A PhD student in SFU's School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT), Nazemi is currently studying how to use an interactive sound system for therapy and is looking for sound properties that have therapeutic qualities for the body and mind.

Nazemi is a researcher in SFU Surrey's Pain Studies Lab, where he works with lab director Diane Gromala. A SIAT professor, Gromala is the founding director of the Chronic Pain Research Institute and holds a Canada Research Chair in Computational Technologies for Transforming Pain.

Nazemi is designing soundscape compositions based on "soundwalks"–natural sounds captured from a variety of environments. His aim is to provide patients in medical waiting rooms with access to the soundwalks via headphones to help lower anxiety and stress while they are waiting.

Influenced by soundscape research carried out decades ago by SFU professor emeritus Barry Truax, Nazemi is exploring whether these "listening treatments" may assist patients in more clearly communicating symptoms to their doctors, a project he is undertaking in collaboration with the Vancouver Arthritis Research Centre. He says preliminary results look positive.

This term Nazemi is teaching a pair of courses including one on interactive video. His students will present their art installations and interactive multimedia projects at Aberthau Mansion in Kitsilano on Nov. 29.

Nazemi is also founder of the Stylus College of Sound and Technology, which teaches music production and audio engineering.

Explore further: Open house feature: Soundwalks and managing pain

Related Stories

Open house feature: Soundwalks and managing pain

March 4, 2013
The sounds you hear while taking a walk may soon play a role in managing chronic pain, according to researchers in Simon Fraser University's pain studies lab.

Women's chronic pain is more complex, more severe

October 24, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—New research from the University of Adelaide has found that chronic pain in women is more complex and harder to treat than chronic pain in men.

Can meditation decrease chronic pain?

October 23, 2013
A randomized controlled study published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics has investigated the role of a special form of meditation (mindfulness) in Chronic pain.

Opioids for chronic pain: Study looks at how patients and their doctors talk about risks

October 22, 2013
Although the popular press—from entertainment news to the crime blotter—has paid significant attention to the dangers of hydrocodone, oxycodone and other opioids, little is known about whether and how this issue comes ...

Pain control in children with cerebral palsy: Treat the cause, not the symptoms

July 15, 2013
Researchers at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital have found that more than 25 percent of children with cerebral palsy seen by physicians have moderate to severe chronic pain, limiting their activity. Findings ...

Pleasure and pain brain signals disrupted in fibromyalgia patients

November 5, 2013
New research indicates that a disruption of brain signals for reward and punishment contributes to increased pain sensitivity, known as hyperalgesia, in fibromyalgia patients. Results published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, ...

Recommended for you

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

Scientists unleash power of genetic data to identify disease risk

January 16, 2018
Massive banks of genetic information are being harnessed to shed new light on modifiable health risks that underlie common diseases.

Blood-vessel-on-a-chip provides insight into new anti-inflammatory drug candidate

January 15, 2018
One of the most important and fraught processes in the human body is inflammation. Inflammatory responses to injury or disease are crucial for recruiting the immune system to help the body heal, but inflammation can also ...

Molecule produced by fat cells reduces obesity and diabetes in mice

January 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers have discovered a new biological pathway in fat cells that could explain why some people with obesity are at high risk for metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. The new findings—demonstrated ...

Obese fat becomes inflamed and scarred, which may make weight loss harder

January 12, 2018
The fat of obese people becomes distressed, scarred and inflamed, which can make weight loss more difficult, research at the University of Exeter has found.

Optimized human peptide found to be an effective antibacterial agent

January 11, 2018
A team of researchers in the Netherlands has developed an effective antibacterial ointment based on an optimized human peptide. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes developing ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.