There is no substitute for medication; not food, not meditation, not music, not supplements, not anything, except in instances where the issue is not medical. And for some, anxiety is a non-specific symptom for a disease they don't have, it is just concern about an event, and in those instances something like music may work as well as medication, finds a study using music before an anesthesia procedure.

A peripheral nerve block procedure is a type of regional anesthesia - done in the preoperative area under ultrasound guidance - that blocks sensations of pain from a specific area of the body. The procedure is routinely performed for a variety of outpatient orthopedic surgeries, such as hip and knee arthroscopies and elbow or hand surgeries. To reduce anxiety, which can lead to prolonged recovery and an increase in postoperative pain, patients commonly take sedative medications, like midazolam, prior to the nerve block procedure.

In the diversity of human existence, any medications can have side effects, and some claim to have a breathing issue while some even report bizarre effects like like hostility and agitation. In this study, researchers found a track of relaxing music to be similarly effective to the intravenous form of midazolam in reducing a patient's anxiety prior to the procedure.  Other studies have found music is reported to help reduce a patient's anxiety prior to surgery but those were versus an oral form of sedative medications, which are not routinely used in the preoperative setting. This was for an intravenous form of sedative medication to measure the efficacy of music in lowering a patient's anxiety prior to conducting a peripheral nerve block.  

The team randomly assigned 157 adults to receive one of two options three minutes prior to the peripheral nerve block: either an injection of 1-2 mg of midazolam, or a pair of noise canceling headphones playing Marconi Union's "Weightless," - an eight-minute song, created in collaboration with sound therapists, with carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms, and bass lines designed specifically to calm listeners down. Researchers evaluated levels of anxiety before and after the use of each method, and found similar changes in the levels of anxiety in both groups.

Patients who received midazolam did report higher levels of satisfaction with their overall experience and fewer issues with communication but that could be because of a number of factors, including the fact they used noise canceling headphones, didn't standardize the volume of music, and didn't allow patients to select the music. So Five Finger Death Punch may not help you relax, but if it works for them, that's okay.

"We've rolled out a new process at our ambulatory surgical center to provide patients who want to listen to music with access to disposable headphones. Ultimately, our goal is to offer music as an alternative to help patients relax during their perioperative period," said the study's lead author Veena Graff, MD, an assistant professor of Clinical Anesthesiology and Critical Care.