Virtual Reality: Can it help with chronic pain?

Virtual reality is the use of computer technologies to create a simulated, immersive and interactive environment. This can be experienced using a headset or any other device.

While most people associate VR with gaming, it can also be used in other areas, including healthcare, education and training.

FDA Authorization For Prescription-Use VR Devices

Although this is a relatively new field of research, several clinical studies have shown that VR technology has the potential to be an effective tool for managing chronic pain.

After this evidence, the FDA now has authorized several companies for their VR headsets as prescription-use devices to manage chronic pain.

This is a great step forward in the quest for non-opioid pain relief .

Can VR help with chronic pain?

VR devices are being proposed in ways to manage chronic pain.

  • Distraction therapy: This is a method of diverting the patient’s focus away from pain. VR offers an immersive experience which may temporarily help users forget or ignore pain.
  • VR can provide relaxation therapy through the creation of calming environments. This can help reduce anxiety and stress. Inducing relaxation activates the body’s painkillers, which can reduce pain perception.
  • CBT: Psychotherapy can be used to help manage chronic pain. CBT is a psychotherapy that aims to change the way patients think and behave in relation to pain. VR can enhance CBT through immersive experiences. This helps patients overcome their pain.
  • Physical Therapy: VR is also a useful tool for physical and occupational therapy. Patients can perform therapeutic exercises in an interactive and immersive environment. This is difficult in a traditional physical therapist setting.
  • Guided Breathwork and Meditation: Virtual Reality can be used to create a virtual experience that guides the patient through different breathing and visualization techniques. This can help reduce pain perception.

Virtual Reality technology is emerging to be a promising tool in managing chronic pain.

We can expect more research in this area, as the FDA has recently approved VR devices to be prescribed for chronic pain management. This could lead to innovative and new ways to manage pain without having to rely on opioids.

It is important to remember that VR therapy shouldn’t be used in place of traditional medical treatment, but as an additional approach. The VR technology isn’t a cure-all for chronic pain. It should be part of a comprehensive plan that includes both medical and psychological interventions.