What is Pain Management?
Pain, especially chronic pain, is very difficult to live with. Millions struggle with some degree of chronic pain every day. An entire medical subfield exists to diagnose and treat both the symptoms and underlying causes of many types of pain.
A pain management specialist can be a doctor, clinician, or therapist who evaluates and treats a wide range of pain problems. Pain management can involve an assortment of procedures, from pharmaceutical, physical rehabilitation, or even surgical solutions. Ideally, the objective is to eliminate pain entirely, or at least lower it to manageable levels so that quality of life can improve.
What types of pain can be treated with pain management?
Pain can be categorized into 3 types – That caused by direct tissue damage (such as arthritis), nerve damage (injury, stroke, or neurological dysfunction), or a mixture of nerve and tissue damage (injury or physical stress, often the source of back pain).
If you have any of the following conditions, it’s very likely that constant or chronic pain is an issue you’re dealing with:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Nerve or nervous system disorders
- Stroke (post-stroke pain)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal cord injury
- Mixed pain disorders
- Neck pain
- Back pain
The Breakthrough of Virtual Reality for Pain Management
Traditionally, sufferers of chronic pain have powerful options available to them, but all come with drawbacks.
- Medications can help, but carry risks of dependency and tolerance.
- Physical therapy can help but can take time to see results and is expensive
- Surgery can help, but carries risks of complications and is also very expensive.
However, with the advent of affordable virtual reality solutions that can provide truly immersive experiences at a low cost, many studies have since been conducted to determine if virtual reality (aka VR), can help manage pain, through the various complicated processes of neurological stimulation.
The results are in, and it turns out VR is a groundbreaking treatment option for those suffering various kinds of chronic pain:
“Virtual reality (VR) has been used to manage pain and distress associated with a wide variety of known painful medical procedures. In clinical settings and experimental studies, participants immersed in VR experience reduced levels of pain, general distress/unpleasantness, and report a desire to use VR again during painful medical procedures. Investigators hypothesize that VR acts as a nonpharmacologic form of analgesia by exerting an array of emotional affective, emotion-based cognitive and attentional processes on the body’s intricate pain modulation system.”
The study’s findings showed the on-demand use of VR resulted in statistically significant improvements in pain compared to the TV group, with patients in the VR group averaging 1.7 points lower on the pain scale. When researchers analyzed findings from the subgroup of patients with the most severe baseline pain of seven or above, VR patients averaged three points lower than the TV group.
“This is our largest and most ambitious VR study to date,” Spiegel said. “Our results support previous research that VR can meaningfully reduce pain using a nonaddictive, drug-free treatment for people experience a range of different pain conditions.”
In Spiegel’s previous study of short-term VR therapy, completed in 2017, the results published in JMIR Mental Health showed patients using VR reported a 24% drop in pain scores.
The current study underscores that VR can be an effective tool to add to traditional pain-management protocols.
“Virtual reality is a mind-body treatment that is based in real science,” Spiegel said. “It does more than just distract the mind from pain, but also helps to block pain signals from reaching the brain, offering a drug-free supplement to traditional pain management.”
Hospital administrators took some nurses who had been furloughed due to the pandemic and deployed a team of eight to help patients use the VR technology to ease their pain. In the past six weeks, they’ve treated about 200 patients and Louis says they’ve witnessed amazing results.
“Some have even told us, ‘This gives me more relief than the morphine,’”.
“Several patients have found VR so helpful in managing pain that they are now using it regularly at home. One patient, Joseph Norris, said he has suffered from chronic pain for 30 years after undergoing radiation treatment to his hip and pelvic area. The former U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel took pain medication for 20 years until he began searching for alternative methods.”
“The virtual reality engages pathways in the brain that would otherwise be occupied to translate pain,” said Dr. Doralina Anghelescu, director of St. Jude’s pain management service and a researcher in the trial. “So it is distraction through immersion in this virtual reality.”
MieronVR and Pain Management
MieronVR is a Virtual Reality platform designed to treat a variety of different conditions using the power of VR to assist in healing, rehabilitation, and mental wellness. It has multiple modules for use in different situations and is offered to rehabilitation facilities for in-patient and out-patient treatment of Neurotherapy, treatment of spinal and brain injury, mental wellness, and of course, chronic pain management. It’s also offered for home use, directly to patients (with the supervision of a medical professional).
Providing truly immersive, guided virtual reality experiences that pair seamlessly with other treatment methods, MieronVR presents several additional benefits to the patient:
- The virtual environment makes repetitive actions more fun and engaging by introducing game-like activities and goals.
- Virtual reality transports the patient out of a drab setting and into mentally invigorating surroundings.
- Direct positive feedback and post-session metrics to the patient and the doctor/therapist encourages persistence and compliance.
- The known benefits of VR on pain abatement can help make the therapy session more comfortable for the patient, or allow for greater intensity without pain.
- Adaptable to all levels of mobility and fully wireless and ergonomic.
MieronVR can help alleviate severe pain caused by injury or chronic illness without the downsides of medications or surgery, and help patients on their way to recovery.
Where can I find providers for pain management near me in VR?
MieronVR may be offered in a clinic near you! Contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or chatting with a representative on our website, where we can help determine if the clinical or home version is a good fit for you.
You can also book a quick demo with us by clicking here!. We can go over anything you want to know in roughly 20-30 minutes.
At MieronVR, we’re dedicated to helping you do more to achieve more.