Can music in daily life reduce fibromyalgia pain? An ecological momentary assessment study.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder in which a person generally has chronic musculoskeletal pain. Stress is thought to be a cause of fibromyalgia symptoms. However, music has been shown to alleviate both stress and pain. Does listening to music in everyday life help alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms? A study using ecological momentary assessment investigated the relationship.

Researchers from the University of Marburg and King’s College London recruited 30 women with fibromyalgia. Each of the participants were given an iPod with an experience sampling program.

For 14 days, they were asked, via iPod:

  • Have you listened to music since last assessment?
  • Did they “actively decide” to listen to music (via radio or other device)?
  • Were they happy or sad when listening to the music?
  • Were they relaxed or energized?
  • Why had they chosen to listen to music (relaxation, distraction, activation, boredom)?

They were then asked to rate their perceived

  • Pain intensity
  • Control over pain
  • Stress

In the end, they found that music helped peoples’ perceived control over pain. This result may seemingly be because relaxation and activation help people cope with pain, and these were two of the major reasons people reported they chose to listen to music.

Much research is to be done in the study of the relationship between pain reduction and music in daily life. One future direction the authors suggested is that intentional music interventions be implemented, and then see how they effect pain coping, and stress-responsive symptoms in everyday life.


Linnemann, A., Kappert, M. B., Fischer, S., Doerr, J. M., Strahler, J., Nater, U. M., 2015. “The effects of music listening on pain and stress in daily life of patients with fibromyalgia syndrome.” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (9, 434).


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