Music is an integral part of many massage sessions—but tunes may create more than pleasure; they may even reduce pain. New research indicates music decreases children’s perceived sense of pain.

A research team from the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry conducted a clinical research trial of 42 children between the ages of 3 and 11 who came to the pediatric emergency department at the Stollery Children’s Hospital and needed IVs.

Some of the children listened to music while getting an IV, while others did not. Researchers measured the children’s distress, perceived pain levels and heart rates, as well as satisfaction levels of parents, and satisfaction levels of health-care providers who administered the IVs.

“We did find a difference inthe children’s reported pain – the children in the music group had less pain immediately after the procedure,” says researcher Lisa Hartling. “The finding is clinically important and it’s a simple intervention that can make a big difference. Playing music for kids during painful medical procedures would be an inexpensive and easy-to-use intervention in clinical settings.”

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