In the past, chronic pain sufferers had three main options. One, take over the counter or potentially addictive prescription medication. Two, get some relief from various types of physical or occupational therapy. Three, just learn to live with the pain. However, the medical industry marches forward into a more technological future just like any other, with new ways to help treat chronic pain in safe, non-invasive and non-pharmacological methods.
Doctors, therapists, and researchers now find that an innovative approach may help more than anything else on its own. The MieronVR system combines different types of therapy with virtual reality guidance and emotional support so chronic pain sufferers can find improvement and relief more easily. From a medical perspective, the treatment of chronic pain carries many questions and possibilities that are sometimes difficult to approach effectively. From a patient perspective, all they want is an answer that brings them relief.
What are the causes of chronic pain?
Most pain comes specifically from a source. You get a sinus headache when your nose is congested. When you twist your ankle playing soccer, it makes sense for the joint and soft tissues to hurt. Stub your toe, bump your head, or sprain your back while lifting something heavy, and you experience pain. Most of these types last a relatively short period of time, and when the injury or other issue heals, the pain stops.
The four main types of chronic pain include:
- Back and neck pain
- Joint pain
- Nerve pain
Chronic pain does not go away for an extremely long period of time. Some of it lasts forever if you do not get treatment, therapy, or take medications to make it stop. Occasionally, there does not seem to be a good way to make it stop at all. The causes of chronic pain include arthritis, chronic migraines or headaches, shingles, neuropathy or damage to the nerves directly, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, cancer, or residual pain from past trauma or surgeries.
No matter what the original cause of the chronic pain an individual suffers, they have similar effects on overall health, well-being, and enjoyment of life. Needless to say, being in constant pain can cause other issues to arise. People dealing with pain tend to exercise and move around less, can experience emotional distress or disorders like depression and anxiety, and may turn to unhealthy ways of trying to deal with their chronic problem.
What are the various ways chronic pain is treated without drugs?
There is a lot of talk in the news about the opioid epidemic and information about how even non-criminal types become addicted after taking these prescription medications for acute or chronic pain issues. Others rely on readily available over-the-counter medication like NSAIDs to help them live as normal a life as possible. Other options exist beyond drugs to help deal with chronic pain. More and more people turn to these to get relief.
Various types of relatively gentle physical therapy can help alleviate chronic pain by optimizing movement, overall mobility, and small motor function. These things can improve range of motion and stretch out and strengthen joints and soft tissues that may cause the condition that results in pain. Not all physical therapy involves movement and building strength. Even stretches and passive motions can help soothe nerves and minimize discomfort.
A large part of PT also involves education. The patient can learn new ways to move and position themselves that help alleviate the problem. Many of these exercises carried out repeatedly over time also retrain the nervous system pathways to function better and stop them from creating neuropathic pain altogether. Since these are the types of physical therapy activities that usually deed along time to succeed, many patients end up stopping due to increased discomfort at the start before they realize the benefits. This is just one of the issues that a virtual reality system with intrinsic entertainment value helps to overcome.
Although resting an injury is an essential first part of recovery, chronic pain that continues does not need more rest. Instead, engaging in gentle exercise that does not stress the joints, tendons, ligaments, or muscles can help alleviate discomfort by improving strength and flexibility. Some great options include swimming, walking, and bike riding. Exercise also triggers the release of endorphins and serotonin, which are natural feel-good chemicals. These can alleviate some pain signals for a period of time directly following the physical activity.
Some exercise focuses on relaxation more than physical fitness. Things like yoga and tai chi combine the benefits of physical improvements with mental relaxation. Together, these two sides of the wellness coin can minimize the instances and longevity of the chronic pain experience. Other alternative therapies focus on the mind-body connection and include such practices as meditation, visualization, massage, and even hypnosis. Some people also turned to things like acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic services, and similar options. Combining gentle physical activity with guided mental relaxation habits may give better results than one or the other alone.
Psychotherapy and Emotional Support
Many chronic pain sufferers experience insomnia or poor sleep habits, depression, anxiety, and higher degrees of stress than those who have physical comfort for the majority of their time. It helps to get psychological treatment or emotion-based therapy to help deal with the non-physical fallout from constant or repetitive physical pain. These treatments can help teach patients coping techniques to maximize enjoyment of your life even when they feel out of control otherwise.
How can MieronVR help manage chronic pain?
While lifestyle changes and management of diseases and disorders can help alleviate chronic pain to a large degree in many patients, the above listed non-pharmaceutical possibilities offer additional relief. When it comes to physical therapy and other innovative advances in the healthcare industry, virtual reality tops the list of most useful and promising improvements. When it comes to chronic pain management, systems like the MieronVR headset and library lead the way to relief.
Virtual Reality provides all four of the major categories of pain relief listed above that have been shown to help people with chronic pain live fuller, richer, more comfortable lives. First, it is important to understand that not every VR headset on the market for gaming or entertainment purposes provides the same results. MieronVR has been specially designed for ease-of-use and comfort for people of all ability levels, ages, and interests.
The vast library of different therapeutic experiences you can use with this virtual reality system offers many different types of physical therapy options for different parts of the body. After all, people need something that targets the location of the pain if they want to improve it over time. Experience gentle exercise intrinsically linked to positive mental energy and relaxation. The goal of the MieronVR system is not to excite the senses or provide a thrilling adventure. Instead, it presents opportunities to achieve, gain actual and emotional rewards, and feel as good as possible during the process and for an extended period of time after. Though, you may find a thrilling adventure in the process with Gait Training trails around the world, and competitive sports in the VR environment designed to be suitable for all levels of mobility.
When chronic pain is treated with opioids there is substantial risk of addiction and other physical side effects like septic buildup. For people with paralysis, this can be a lethal combination, and may set back years of physical mobility progress. Mieron’s library of non-invasive VR experiences including guided breathing exercises, trails, and life coaching modules can help reduce the perception of pain, with lasting effects outside of the VR session.