Virtual reality may be the new pain treatment. With modern technology, there have been advances in using devices to help manage pain without medications, and some of those FDA-cleared devices include virtual reality. Virtual reality may seem like it’s just for video games, but it can, in fact, be used for pain management. Here’s the latest research on how virtual reality treats pain in chronic patients.
How Virtual Reality May Hold the Secret to Effective Pain Relief
In the past, most providers were prescribing opioids to treat chronic pain. Because of the dangerous downsides opioids created over the last 30 to 50 years, many pain management specialists are looking for alternative treatments to help their patients. That’s where technology comes in.
In November 2021, the FDA authorized the marketing of prescription home-use VR devices to help reduce chronic lower back pain. Here are some facts about VR:
- Virtual reality is an immersive technology that provides a 360 environment that people can interact with through a VR headset.
- Sounds can be heard through the speakers, and the goggles provide an engaging place where you can interact with these virtual worlds.
- VR headsets are primarily popular with video games, such as virtual rollercoasters and car racing games.
But for chronic pain patients, virtual reality represents a new opportunity for effective pain relief. According to clinical trials and studies provided by the notable Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, virtual reality, when placed in a calming environment, can help reduce chronic pain through the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness is considered an effective psychological tool for managing mental health problems and chronic pain through meditation, guided imagery, and CBT therapy. Stress, anxiety, and depression can contribute to chronic pain. Virtual reality can provide an easily accessible session for patients to engage in mindfulness practices through its ability to stimulate the brain and distract it from receiving pain signals.
While not much evidence supports the idea that virtual reality reduces chronic pain, more extensive studies are needed to understand the physiological effects on patients with chronic pain. Right now, it’s too soon to know whether or not virtual reality will become a standard in chronic pain management, as that answer depends on future research. Due to the lack of research, most VR sets for chronic pain have yet to be advertised to the public, and the only current one being tested is RelieVRx. However, once it becomes mainstream, it will be an exciting time for patients seeking better solutions to their chronic pain!
Visit Pain Management Services For Chronic Pain Treatment
At Pain Management Services, Dr. Calvin Cajigal, MD, provides his patients with the most up-to-date treatments for chronic pain management in Ballwin, MO. Patients can find long-term solutions for their chronic pain through his compassion, including non-surgical and alternative treatments, and help manage their conditions throughout their lives. For more information about our services, contact Pain Management Services by calling (314) 821-8644 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Cajigal today.