Scroll to top

Virtual Reality in Pain Management

Joanna Pidanty - April 4, 2024 - 0 comments

The unpleasant sensation of pain is an inherent part of human existence. Since pain lowers the quality of life, finding effective and safe ways of relieving it is crucial. A particularly harmful phenomenon is chronic pain, which causes suffering and impairs daily functioning. Pain control is now supported by modern solutions based on Virtual Reality. VR can be complementary to conventional methods targeting pain.

Pain under control

Pain control means taking steps to reduce pain to a level where it does not interfere with daily functioning and does not cause suffering. Uncontrolled pain becomes a limitation, impairs well-being, and affects relationships with others. Controlled pain enables sleep, physical activity, work, and enjoyment of daily life. It is important to remember that pain is a complex experience involving both sensory and emotional aspects, that are linked to the patient’s psyche. The emotional aspect of pain gives it a highly subjective character. People can experience pain in different ways and intensities, which is why pain control requires using diverse methods. Their selection depends on the pathomechanism, location, intensity, and type of pain. An individualized approach to pain therapy is highly desirable and consistent with modern standards of care and pain treatment.

Pharmacology for pain

In pain management, chronic pain appears to be the biggest challenge. It is not easy to control, has a long-lasting impact on how people function, and reduces the quality of life. Pharmacology can be an effective method of pain control; however, for safety, a three-step ladder for selecting painkillers called the analgesic ladder, has been developed. Reducing pain with painkillers has its limitations and downsides. It should be remembered that pharmacology does not eliminate the cause of pain, and misuse of painkillers carries risks like abuse, addiction, organ damage, side effects, and even death. Opioids used for moderate to severe pain typically work well at the beginning of treatment. Over time, tolerance to the painkillers may develop, requiring a higher dose to achieve an analgesic effect. The WHO is concerned about the improper use of strong painkillers. In some countries, there is a dangerous phenomenon known as the “opioid epidemic”. In addition, the misuse of over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can lead to health risks. Considering the risks associated with pharmacological treatment, it is recommended to use non-pharmacological methods to help manage pain.

The number of painkillers taken can be reduced by using alternative pain control methods.

Analgesic effects of VR

The interest in Virtual Reality for pain control arises from the fact that these technology interventions are non-invasive, safe, and appealing to patients. Virtual Reality is applied to alleviate unpleasant pain sensations, as it is highly effective in redirecting attention. VR can serve as a distraction during unpleasant medical procedures involving acute pain. Engaging in a virtual experience and directing attention away from the pain helps experience the unpleasant stimulus less intensely. Distracting attention from pain using VR is more effective (than, for example, watching a movie or reading a book), because Virtual Reality is exceptionally engaging. Transferring mind presence into the virtual world effectively and swiftly redirects attention away from discomfort. However, the analgesic effect of Virtual Reality extends beyond the distraction mechanism, which is effective for short-term pain. Uncontrolled chronic pain affects all aspects of life and has a detrimental impact on mental health, which in turn intensifies pain sensations. Virtual Reality technology has been applied in the medical device VR TierOne, designed for the therapy of depression, anxiety, and stress. There are scientific opinions that if VR intervention reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, it may also help to reduce pain.

Virtual therapy strengthens the psyche and thereby has an impact on pain control.

Using VR to alleviate other discomforts besides pain helps build the patient’s resilience to unpleasant experiences. The Virtual Garden of Rebirth therapy proposed by VR TierOne may bring benefits in pain control. The psychotherapeutic virtual intervention of VR TierOne empowers patients, reducing their sense of helplessness towards their condition, and encourages them to take actions to alleviate pain, such as participating in rehabilitation. The perception of pain depends not only on physiological and psychological factors but also on environmental factors. The environment can affect the intensity or alleviation of pain. People in uncomfortable places and without support experience worse mood and lower pain tolerance.

VR provides positive stimuli that help in coping with pain.

VR allows for intentional sensory and emotional stimulation that can uplift mood and consequently reduce pain. Delivering positive experiences is achievable through beneficial environmental changes, easily facilitated by VR. Wearing the TierOne GO mobile VR relaxation goggles makes it possible to experience a well-being-promoting natural environment. Pleasant landscapes and sounds from 360° VR relaxation videos create excellent conditions for relaxation. In these scenic surroundings, guided by a therapist, psycho-physical relaxation is achieved through breathing, relaxation, and meditation techniques. Virtual relaxation helps reduce pain-aggravating states. The VR TierOne GO relaxation goggles can be used as a complementary method for managing pain. Virtual Reality used in VR TierOne and VR TierOne GO solutions enables pain control through various mechanisms by diverting attention, reducing stress and tension, promoting well-being, providing support, and reinforcing pain management. Although the pain-relieving potential of VR is still being researched and developed, it is worth noting that this technology is already helping people experiencing pain and other conditions that impact quality of life.

Related posts

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copy link
Powered by Social Snap