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VR for Pain — Could Virtual Reality Be a New Pain Management Treatment?

Medical technology, like that we use here Pasadena Pain Management, has been at the forefront for pain treatment for years. But now a different type of technology — one that is typically associated with gaming and entertainment — is raising eyebrows for its revolutionary advancement in pain treatment.

The technology is called Virtual Reality (VR).

A Virtual Distraction From Pain

Doctors say patients who suffer from different types of pain – from severe migraines to intensely painful medical procedures — can greatly benefit from VR technology. Why? Because virtual reality provides an immersive, fully-engaging distraction from pain.

“The theory behind it is that there’s only so much attention available to process pain, and if you’re able to pull that attention away, you’ll think about the pain less and you’ll experience it less,” says David Patterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington. Patterson uses virtual reality to help alleviate pain in burn patients.

In the early ’90s, Patterson worked with another researcher, Hunter Hoffman, to try out a game called SnowWorld on burn patients. In the game, patients are immersed in a white, snow-covered world, where they are challenged to throw snowballs at snowmen.

Patients playing SnowWorld reported that they felt less pain — which is reflected through Hoffman and Patterson’s brain imaging studies.

Pain Treatment for Multiple Conditions

Researcher say VR goes beyond treatment for just burn pain. It can be effective with everything from dental pain to chronic pain.
Here’s how it works:

Virtual reality addresses the anxiety people have about the pain through distraction. If you simply tell a patient it’s important to move, but they know that movement will cause pain, they’re going to have a negative reaction to the treatment. But give them a game to play and it becomes much easier to stay motivated. In one study, patients said that they enjoyed the games so much, they forgot all about their pain and wanted to continue playing even after the trial was over.

While VR will never fully replace professional pain management treatments and medication, the technology can be used as a safe, drug-free supplemental alternative, with no side effects.

About Pasadena Pain Management

Pasadena Pain Management offers pain management treatment Pasadena, CA. Our office is conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At Pasadena Pain Management, we offer the exclusive TruDenta treatment therapy — a highly specialized form of care that involves cutting-edge dental technology, without needles or injections. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable pain management care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping our patients happy and pain free.