At the University of Plymouth, a team of researchers released their findings in The Journal of Pain showcasing how virtual reality may be beneficial for decreasing chronic pain among people with nerve injuries.
The study is one of its only kind able to purportedly show an association between virtual reality and its potential analgesic effects for clinical pain.
“In this study, we examined the influence of both a real and sham (ie, the same images in 2D) immersive arctic VR environment on conditioned pain modulation (CPM) and in a human surrogate model of central sensitization in 38 healthy volunteers. CPM and acute heat pain thresholds were assessed before and during VR/sham exposure in the absence of any sensitization,” the journal article reads.
“In a follow-on study, we used the cutaneous high frequency stimulation model of central sensitization and measured changes in mechanical pain sensitivity in an area of heterotopic sensitization before and during VR/sham exposure.”
According to researchers, exposure to a virtual reality environment could serve as an analgesic, becoming a promising target for future research.
“These results suggest that virtual reality could provide a novel mechanism-driven analgesic strategy in patients with altered central pain processing,” researchers concluded.