A New Tool for Chronic Pain

Over 50 million adults in the United States are living with chronic pain. Chances are, you or someone you know is battling chronic pain. To date, physicians have used a myriad of tools to restore quality of life and reduce chronic pain, and soon pain management physicians will have an exciting new tool to add- VR, virtual reality technology.

A study performed at Cedars Sinai Medical Center found that hospitalized patients who used virtual reality to manage their pain had a 24% reduction in their pain scores. In addition, at home VR headsets managed by patients proved to be effective in reducing pain, stress levels and improving overall mood. 

The VR programs work by using cognitive behavioral therapy to distract patients and reduce the emphasis patients place on their pain. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to change the way patients think about pain so that the body and mind better respond when pain is experienced. 

Now, companies such as XR Health and Applied VR are supplying patients with headsets at home to use under the care of a healthcare professional. Early studies reveal that VR is effective in preventing the use of opioids and reducing the use of opioids in people who are already on them.

Similar, virtual reality is also being used in the delivery room as an option for women to manage the pain associated with labor.

Right now, Applied VR is teaming up with the Department of Veterans Affairs to target and ease chronic pain for veterans in their homes. They are also working to develop a VR pharmacy, where soon patients from everywhere could access VR with the oversight of their healthcare provider.

Author
South Lake Pain Institute

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