Music has proven health benefits that can elicit or ease emotion in anyone with chronic pain. It is a form of communication that groups our community and builds a common voice. Here are some of the best songs and playlists to help you feel heard and motivated.

If you feel like your pain eases when you listen to good music – it’s not all in your head. Music is proven to alleviate chronic pain. Some ways it could potentially do this is by:

  • Altering your sensitivity to pain by disrupting your brain’s “pain-stress-pain” feedback loop.
  • Inhibiting the release of your stress hormones and calming the stimulation of your pituitary-adrenal stress axis.
  • Affecting your brain’s opioid system that controls physical pain.

I will share some amazing music written by artists with chronic pain about their journey. And songs that will help you fight through your toughest moments.

These playlists are here to help you feel connected to the cause, loved by your community and supported throughout your emotional battles.

More...

Songs About Chronic Pain You Will Connect With

You’re not facing your chronic pain condition alone. A few popular musicians with chronic illnesses understand what you’re going through and have expressed their hardships through song. 

Everything I share here is so moving that it’s brought me to tears. All I can say in those dark moments is “YES! They get it”. 

Here are some of my favourite songs that tell you what it’s like to be sick and suffer from chronic pain.

The five best songs about chronic pain

I Lived by OneRepublic

This song makes me cry every time I hear it. Lead vocalist and pianist of OneRepublic, Ryan Tedder, wrote I Lived with a strong message behind it.

The band used this song to share the story of a cystic fibrosis warrior, Bryan Warneke, and his daily struggle for survival.

The only way you can know
You give it all you have
And I hope that you don’t suffer
But take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you’ll say

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived

Make it Go Away by Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow wrote this song while undergoing breast cancer treatment and radiation. As many of you will know, cancer can leave severe chronic pain that no one thought would be part of the package deal.

Sheryl sings about the pain she felt – both physically and emotionally so eloquently. 

Sometimes I wonder which hurts the worse
The thought of dying or reliving every hurt
Was love the illness and disease the cure
Oh, the cure?

Wolves by Selena Gomez

Although there are a few theories on what Selena was singing about here – the main line of thought is that it’s about her Lupus diagnosis.

The singer has used chemotherapy to help her manage her autoimmune condition, but in 2017 she still experienced kidney failure and needed an emergency transplant.

The main give away her track ‘Wolves’ is about her lupus struggles is the name. The condition’s name is derived from the Latin word, which means wolf!

In your eyes, there’s a heavy blue
One to love and one to lose
Sweet divine, a heavy truth
Water or wine, don’t make me choose

Hard Life by Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley wrote this song for ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) sufferer Joe Kindregan in 2005. He wanted to give a voice to someone who needed help sharing their pain.

The disease is a rare primary immunodeficiency disease that attacks various organs in the body. This rare and fatal disease manifests similarly to muscular dystrophy, cancer or cystic fibrosis. 

Stop starin’ at me
Leave the sad looks at home
Everybody feels bad,
And you don’t understand,
It’s not like I’m alone

’Cause everyone has battles to fight
And I don’t need your sympathy tonight

Believer by Imagine Dragons

This hit song was written and sung by the lead singer of Imagine Dragons – Dan Reynolds. In 2015, he admitted to suffering from ankylosing spondylitis – a form of arthritis of the spine.

Beyond this autoimmune disease, Reynolds also suffers from anxiety and depression. Regardless of his pain, he still gets up and does what he loves every day. It’s an inspiration.

“You break me down; you build me up, believer, believer… Pain!
Oh, let the bullets fly, oh let them rain
My life, my love, my drive, it came from... Pain!”

You can catch the whole playlist here on Spotify:

Songs that Explain Chronic Pain to Others

These songs are not necessarily about chronic pain – but their lyrics are relatable and can help you explain parts of your struggle to others in an easy way.

Listen carefully to these lyrics and share them – they’ll touch your soul.

Five Best Songs That Explain Chronic Pain

Her Diamonds by Rob Thomas

Although Rob Thomas is not chronically ill himself, he wrote this song about a girl he knows with an autoimmune condition.

This song is written from his perspective, watching her battle as a healthy individual.

And she says, “Ooh, I can’t take no more.”
Her tears like diamonds on the floor
And her diamonds bring me down
’Cause I can’t help her now
She’s down in it
She tried her best, and now she can’t win
It’s hard to see them on the ground
Her diamonds falling down

Nobody Told Me by Vintage Trouble

Vintage Trouble is a rock and roll group from LA with some great hits. ‘Nobody told me’ is all about how hard life can be in painful moments – and it can definitely be applied to someone with a chronic illness.

This is a message and a calling

So, get up and gather around, everyone.

I’m withering. Dying. Trembling from trying. Barely crawling.

What can I do?

A Little Too Much by Shawn Mendes

Shawn Mendes was candid about the meaning behind his hit song, which is all about the craziness, stress and pressure of his life in the limelight.

No, this isn’t about chronic pain at all. But a couple of themes are very similar: overwhelm, loneliness and exhaustion. 

She would not show that she was afraid
But being and feeling alone was too much to face
Though everyone said that she was so strong
What they didn’t know is that she could barely carry on

Unwell by Matchbox Twenty

Matchbox Twenty’s lead singer Rob Thomas wrote this song in honour of all people that “are a little f*cked up” in his words. He adds, “We all feel a little f--ked up sometimes... you're not alone.”

I resonated with this because there have been many times in my journey I’ve felt a little “f*cked up” myself!

All day starin’ at the ceilin’ makin’
Friends with shadows on my wall
All night hearing voices tellin’ me
That I should get some sleep
Because tomorrow might be good for somethin’
Hold on, feelin’ like I’m headed for a breakdown
And I don’t know why

But I’m not crazy; I’m just a little unwell
I know, right now you can’t tell
But stay awhile, and maybe then you’ll see
A different side of me

Flares by The Script

What started as a simple love song changed into a song about faith and overcoming adversity after lead singer Danny O'Donoghue's mother suffered from a brain aneurism.

He was told by many doctors that his mother would never survive the ordeal, but she challenged them all and survived! The song is about his mother’s struggle and how it changed his sceptical mind into truly believing her recovery was a miracle. 

Did you find it hard to breathe?
Did you cry so much that you could barely see?
You're in the darkness all alone
And no one cares, there's no one there

But did you see the flares in the sky?
Were you blinded by the light?
Did you feel the smoke in your eyes?
Did you, did you?
Did you see the sparks filled with hope?
You are not alone
'Cause someone's out there, sending out flares

You can catch the whole playlist here on Spotify:

Motivational Songs That Help People with Chronic Pain

If you’re listening to music at home, learning dance moves and keeping that hair comb steady in your hand as you sing in the shower – that’s music as therapy.

It’s a useful and effective way of getting music to help you manage your chronic pain – as we’ve just discussed. But it can be taken a step further.

It lifts your mood and can help with depression.

Depression and chronic pain are two things that often go hand-in-hand – I learnt this the hard way. I never struggled with mental health until I got my CRPS diagnosis.

I’ll admit it candidly – music isn’t enough to completely alleviate my depression. But if I use it correctly, it does a damn good job!

Again, there’s science behind this too. Listening to happy music can lift your mood and help you build self-awareness. And if you suffer from depression – you may find more sustainable relief through music therapy.

Five best motivational songs on a bad pain day

You Don’t Know About Me by Ella Vos

’Cause I wake up 

This is my body; this is my war
We can’t wait ’til you come around

Say what you’re gonna say
I don’t care anyway

You don’t know about me
You don’t know how hard I try

It’s Amazing by Jem

Patience now frustration in the air
And people who don’t care
Well, it’s gonna get you down
And you’ll fall (fall)
Yes, you will hit a wall
Get back up on your feet
And you’ll be stronger and smarter

Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself  by Jess Glynne

Don’t be so hard on yourself, no
Learn to forgive, learn to let go
Everyone trips, everyone falls
So don’t be so hard on yourself, no
’Cause I’m just tired of marchin’ on my own
Kind of frail, I feel it in my bones
Won’t let my heart, my heart turn into stone
So don’t be so hard on yourself, no

Warrior by Hannah Kerr  

Staring down the face of fear
Got to keep breathing
When the negative is all you hear
Got to keep believing

’Cause in the darkness there is a light
Your truth it keeps on burning bright
Brave enough to fight the fight
Shout the battle cry

The Fighter by Gym Class Heroes

Until the referee rings the bell
Until both, your eyes start to swell
Until the crowd goes home
What we gonna do ya’ll

Give ’em hell, turn their heads
Gonna live life ’til we’re dead
Give me scars, give me pain
Then they’ll say to me, say to me, say to me
There goes a fighter (oh)

You can catch the whole playlist here on Spotify:

The Best Music for Chronic Pain Relief and Relaxation

When pain is unbearable, it feels difficult to relax or do anything relaxing like SLEEP.

This is another important aspect of pain management to consider – sleep deprivation can undoubtedly make your daily life feel much worse.

Luckily, music can help.

Not only can listening to the right music help you relax more easily. But research also shows that it can help improve your sleep quality.

There are so many different types of music that can help you here. Here are my five favourite types.

5 types of relaxing music for chronic pain relief

Piano for pain relief

Classical music, in general, is known to be relaxing because it helps you naturally release dopamine (your happy hormone) and inhibit the release of stress too.

It calms your autonomic nervous system.

The piano is a personal favourite, but any classical music with a slow, sweet tempo is perfect for lowering your heart rate.

Nature sounds

The sounds of nature have been associated with wellbeing for generations – and it’s for a reason.

Researchers at the Brighton and Sussex School of medicine found that:

While artificial noises are more likely to trigger inward-focused attention (rumination, depression, anxiety).

Natural noises are closely linked to a decrease in your body’s flight-or-fight response and an increase in its rest-and-digest response. 

Scientifically-proven songs that induce relaxation

A study conducted at Mindlab International recorded the physiological responses certain songs had on participants.

We may all refer to these songs as “relaxing” hits, but researchers have used science to prove it’s physiologically true.

Weightless by Marconi Union

This is classified as the most relaxing song in the world. It was written by Marconi Union, a British ambient music band,  in conjunction with sound therapists. This song successfully managed to reduce stress among participants by 65%.

You can catch the playlist of all 10 songs here:

Tibetan Singing Bowls

There is some evidence suggesting that Tibetan singing bowl therapy can help you relax, especially while you’re meditating.

Although there’s not a great deal of modern research behind it, these bowls have been used for centuries to help people relax, and I have always loved the way they sound.

Binaural Beats

Binaural beats are generated when you hear two tones with slightly different frequencies in each ear.

Your head processes the difference in these tones and allows you to perceive a specific beat.

One in-depth study found that binaural beats could effectively “reset” parts of your brain that generate chronic pain messages and reduce the severity of the pain you receive by 77%.

By now, I’m not surprised if you’ve been on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I know I have been! Music is so powerful, and it’s an incredible form of therapy for all of us!

If you feel I’ve left out any tunes you think should be included – pop me a message and let me know! I’d love to hear what helps YOU!

About the author, Marina

Marina Wildt is an experienced health and wellness writer, chronic illness warrior and founder of The Discerning You. In the last 12 years, she has gone from being paralysed in a wheelchair to living a full life alongside her conditions and now she wants to share all the practical advice that she has learnt with you.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
>