Fibromyalgia is a debilitating condition that causes pain and tiredness. The severity of symptoms vary from person to person, but for most it is life-changing.
Frustratingly there isn't a cure, and that's largely because it isn't know what causes fibromyalgia, though it is linked to stress, trauma, injury and illness.
Symptoms are managed through pain medication, exercise, massage therapy and other holistic therapies.
One question I've had a fair few times is whether healing music like binaural beats can help with the symptoms.
So in this post, I answer this question in detail, sharing my experience, and some scientific research, to help you make a decision on whether this type of wellness audio will work for you.
Can Binaural Beats Cure Fibromyalgia?
The answer is no. There is no known cure. However, binaural beats, like other natural therapies, can certainly form part of a treatment plan.
For example, there is evidence that binaural beats music can relieve pain, improve sleep, reduce stress and anxiety. These are all areas that a person with Fibromyalgia might struggle with.
Can Binaural Beats Replace Painkillers?
You shouldn't stop taking painkillers without the advice of a physician. Stopping medication suddenly can have side effects, so always consult with your doctor.
You can tell your physician that you are experimenting with healing music, which I'm sure he/she will say is fine.
As with other therapies such as massage, meditation, Yoga, etc., the goal is to reduce reliance on painkillers and better manage the pain with these alternative therapies.
Over time, your pain threshold may increase, and this is partly due to a lowering in stress and anxiety around your condition. Also, if you manage to sleep better your body will be more efficient at healing and becoming healthier.
Is There Any Evidence That Binaural Beats Can Help Fibromyalgia?
There is no research on Fibromyalgia specifically. You have to consider that funding is funneled to pain management medication and pharmacological treatments because this is a profitable area. Natural therapies are last in line for research funding because, as I aways say, there's no money in broccoli – because you can grow it yourself. You get what I mean.
However, research has been done on the efficacy of binaural beats on pain reduction, sleep, and anxiety.
For example, the most significant double-blind placebo trial concluded the following:
This study provides evidence that theta rhythm binaural beats can alleviate pain intensity, both after a brief 30 minute and a longer one week on-demand intervention. The subsequent significant reduction in analgesic medication consumption in chronic pain patients' daily living could offer a valuable tool, augmenting the effect of existing pain therapies (1).
Another study found:
Our meta-analysis adds to the growing evidence that binaural-beat exposure is an effective way to affect cognition over and above reducing anxiety levels and the perception of pain without prior training, and that the direction and the magnitude of the effect depends upon the frequency used, time under exposure, and the moment in which the exposure takes place (2).
And another study concluded:
The results supported the hypothesis that an external audio protocol of Theta binaural beats was effective in reducing perceived pain severity for participants (3).
Sleep is another key area that those with Fibromyalgia struggle with. Some people suffer from insomnia, others from mid-sleep waking and disturbances, and some with apnea.
There are a number of research studies that point to the efficacy of binaural beats in assisting sleep, particularly Delta and Theta state tracks.
For example, sleep stability was improved in this study, and sleep and awakening quality, sleepiness and motivational state were significantly improved in this study.
Research for stress and anxiety have also shown similar positive results.
How Do I Get Started with Binaural Beats?
First identify the areas that you're struggling with, be that pain at a particular time of the day, not sleeping well at night, feeling stressed and frustrated, or having trouble concentrating due to any of these things.
Once you have a list of areas you want to work on, you can buy some tracks to help. Once you have your tracks, download them to your computer, phone, tablet or .mp3 player or other device you will use.
You will also need headphones, as headphones are required to get the full benefits from binaural beats.
Next, it's a good idea to work out a listening schedule. So you might listen to a track for pain relief in the morning, then something for calm focus at work afternoon, for muscle relaxation in the early evening, and then something for sleep.
What Tracks Should I Buy for Fibromyalgia?
There are specific tracks designed for the aforementioned problem areas such as pain and sleep, but also remember that there are broad benefits to binaural beats music and there is crossover benefits between tracks.
For example, a track designed for relaxation may also help with pain, and similarly a track designed for stress will help with anxiety.
It's good to have a variety of tracks to use because you may get bored listening to the same ones over and over after a week or two.
Are the Effects Permanent?
Again, think of this like any other natural therapy such as Yoga or massage. The benefits on mind and body are accumulative: the more consistently you practice the more profound the benefits will be.
Binaural beats entrain the brain into positive habitual behaviors. For example, if a person has problems focussing while working at the computer, listening to a track designed for focus – on a daily basis at the peak time of lack of concentration – will help develop a positive habit of the brain shifting into a state of focus at that particular time of day.
The same is true for sleep, stress, and anxiety.
However, where pain is concerned, while you may see a short term benefit in pain reduction, and a medium term benefit of greater ability to tolerate pain, it is likely that you will need to need use the tracks quite regularly for this purpose.
This is akin to someone using massage therapy once a week for an old injury. If you miss a couple of sessions the area will stiffen up again and become an issue.
What Are Your Recommendations?
Check out my recommendations for stores to buy your binaural beats downloads on this page.
Most programs are a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. You will most likely pay between $7 and $15 for a download, which may include more than one version, depending on the store and the price.
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