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Man Sitting While Looking Into Virtual Reality Headset

Could Virtual Reality Provide Pain Relief Similar to Opioids?

The general definition of chronic pain is pain that lasts for at least three months without relief. Chronic pain is also one of the main causes of extended periods of disability in the United States with 50 million people being affected. The most common solution for people who are suffering from chronic pain is painkillers, which are usually opioid based. However, only one in three people are successful in managing their daily experiences with chronic pain by using painkillers.

It seems essential then that alternatives to the lackluster pharmacological solutions for chronic pain be explored. One of the unlikeliest alternatives to painkillers is providing an interesting solution for those seeking a suitable option—virtual reality.

Could Virtual Reality Seriously be a Suitable Solution for the Relief of Chronic Pain

Patients are given the opportunity to experience completely different environments during virtual reality sessions depending upon their individual circumstances. They are also placed into virtual experiences where they can be evaluated for their chronic pain experiences and the sources of their pain.

The main function of VR when it comes to chronic pain management is to create a completely difference experience for the patient—a seamless reality that is so well defined it cannot be distinguished from “real” reality. Because the brain is largely incapable of existing in two realities at once, the virtual reality takes over. The patient is “encouraged” to exist in a reality in which his or her chronic pain does not exist.

The key to this idea is to “bombard” the senses with dynamic and spectacular experiences. This causes the brain to overload with data so that it struggles to process all that is happening to it. Some of those inputs are then sacrificed so that the brain can cope—including the input for the neurons signaling pain.

The Brain Does Not Receive Pain…it Creates Pain

It has been known since the early 1980’s that the brain is not actually the receiver of pain, but the generator of pain. The brain can “block” pain signals if it senses that it is of benefit. For example, a person with a sprained ankle may escape from a dangerous situation such as a fire or physical threat without feeling any ankle pain. This is because the brain is ignoring the pain signals, understanding that getting away from the source of danger is more important. Using virtual reality uses the same principles—giving the brain a reason to ignore pain because of alternative signals it is receiving.

If your life has been affected by opioids, then Advanced Rapid Detox can help. Call us at (800) 603-1813 or contact us online here.