Could Virtual Reality Therapy Help Your Chronic Back Pain?

Some people may be surprised to learn that virtual reality (VR) devices can be used in the medical field to help people manage pain. For instance, one study found that when burn patients used VR devices, they reported reduced procedural pain. While VR devices used to just be used at medical facilities, the FDA has cleared at-home devices for people with chronic moderate to severe back pain. Read on to learn more about these devices and how they could be beneficial to your chronic back pain.

How Does At-Home VR Work?

The VR devices that are geared towards patients with chronic back pain take a cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) approach. You may have heard of CBT to manage mental health disorders, but it can also be used to manage pain. The goal of CBT is to help patients recognize negative or unhelpful behavior or thought patterns so that their emotions and thoughts don't overwhelm them or stress them out. Naturally, chronic pain causes patients to feel stressed; unfortunately, extended stress responses can affect bodily chemicals, like serotonin and norepinephrine. CBT can reduce the stress response that affects these chemicals.

So, what does CBT look like in VR? These VR devices contain games, lessons, and exercises. For instance, some games may focus on positive visualization, like changing a dark dismal landscape into a beautiful landscape. Some exercises may focus on diaphragmatic breathing, which is known to help lower stress.

What Are the Benefits of At-Home VR?

Obviously, the main benefit of at-home VR devices is that they could help reduce the perception of your back pain. An eight-week trial found that users had meaningful symptom reduction—such as improved stress and mood—and reduced pain intensity compared to the sham VR group.

Besides reducing pain, some people who use at-home VR may see improvements in secondary health issues, such as insomnia, anxiety, or depression.

Another benefit of at-home VR is that it may reduce reliance on medication. If you have to take certain medications for a long period of time, you may develop a tolerance. Medication tolerances can be an issue since you may need higher dosages to experience the same degree of pain relief. At-home VR can help people avoid medication dependence or addiction.

Lastly, at-home VR is helpful for people with chronic back pain because it may reduce medical/medication costs. Some insurance plans may have a cap on chiropractic visits/doctor visits, so you may be having to pay out of pocket to get the help that you need. At-home VR devices can teach you CBT skills that can last a lifetime even when the VR program is complete.

Reach out to a medical equipment supplier today to learn more about at-home VR devices and how to better manage your chronic back pain. 

For more information, contact a local company like AppliedVR.