Preferences help
enabled [disable] Abstract
Number of results
2019 | 23 | 24-33
Article title

Virtual Reality: A Breakthrough in Pain Management?

Title variants
Languages of publication
Virtual reality is a computer-generated scenario in which the user can interact in 3 dimensions so that the user feels that he or she is part of the scene. Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage. Pain is often undertreated and this comes along with several consequences such as anger, depression, anxiety, workplace absenteeism, underemployment, unemployment and fear, among others. In the past decade, there has been need to find a safer way of controlling chronic pain without the necessary complication of opioid misuse. Virtual reality has been proved to be a safer adjunct for this. Several studies have reported that virtual reality is quite effective for pain management, with participants reporting significant relief of symptoms. The discovery of the use of virtual reality in the management of pain may prove to be a breakthrough in pain medicine, saving people from the complications of prolonged opioid use and opioid misuse. However, more research still has to be done to fully establish the mechanism of action and use of virtual reality in pain management, especially in the management of chronic pain. This would be a true breakthrough, allowing the full safety and effectiveness of virtual reality to be harnessed.
Physical description
  • Department of Physiotherapy, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
  • Department of Physiotherapy, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
  • [1] Albiol-Perez S., Forcano-Carcia M., Munoz-Tomas M.T., Manzano-Fernandez P., Solsona-Hernandez S., Mashat M.A., Gil-Gomez J.A. 2015. A novel virtual motor rehabilitation system for Guillain-barre syndrome. Methods of Information in Medicine 54(2): 127-134
  • [2] Bantick S.J., Wise R.G., Ploghaus A., Clare S., Smith S.M., Tracey I. (2002). Imaging how attention modulates pain in humans using functional MRI. Brain 125: 310-319
  • [3] Becker N., Bondegaard T.A., Olsen A.K., Slogren P., Bech P., Erikson J. (1997) Pain epidemiology and health related quality of life in chronic non-malignant pain patients referred to a Danish multidisciplinary pain center. Pain 73: 393-400
  • [4] Botella C. Garcia-Palacios A., Vizcaino Y. Herrero R., Banos R.M., Belmonte M.A. (2013). Virtual reality in the treatment of fibromyalgia: a pilot study. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking 16: 215-223
  • [5] Butler R.J., Hartwig R., Gardner H.H (1997). HMOs moral hazard and cost shifting in workers’ compensation. Journal of Health Economics 16: 191-206.
  • [6] Carr D.B., Goudas L.C (1999). Acute pain. Lancet 353 (9169): 2051-2058
  • [7] Chan E.A., Chung J.W., Wong T.K., Lien A.S., Yang J.Y. (2007) Application of a virtual reality prototype for pain relief of paediatric burn in Taiwan. Journal of Clinical Nursing 16 (4): 786-793
  • [8] Chapman CR, Nakamura Y. A. (1999) Passion of the Soul: an introduction to pain for consciousness researchers. Consciousness Cognition 8: 391-422
  • [9] Cole J., Crowle S., Austwick G., Slater D.H. (2009) Explanatory findings with virtual reality for phantom limb: from stump motion to agency and analgesia. Disability and Rehabilitation 31: 846-854
  • [10] Dahlquist L.M., McKenna K.D., Jones K.K., Dillinger L., Weiss K.E., Ackerman C.S. (2007) Active and passive distraction using a head-mounted display helmet: Effects on cold pressor pain in children. Journal of Health Psychology 26: 794-801.
  • [11] De Tommaso M, Ricci K, Laneve L, Savino N, Antonaci V, Livrea P. (2013) Virtual visual effect of hospital waiting room on pain modulation in healthy subjects and patients with chronic migraine. Pain Research and Treatment 2013: 515730
  • [12] Dunajcik L. (1999) Chronic nonmalignant pain. In: McCaffery M, Pasero C, eds. Pain Clinical Manual, 2nd ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Inc: 1999: 467-521
  • [13] Fox CD, Berger D, Fine PG et al. (2000) Pain assessment and treatment in the managed care environment. A position statement from the American Pain Society. Glenview, IL: American Pain Society
  • [14] Fulk G. (2005). Locomotor training and virtual reality-based balance training for an individual with multiple sclerosis: a case report. Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy 29(1): 34-42
  • [15] Garcia-Palacios A., Herrero R., Vizcaino Y., Belmonte M.A., Castilla D., Molinari G., Banos R.M., Botella C. (2015). Integrating virtual reality with activity management for the treatment of fibromyalgia: Acceptability and preliminary efficacy. The Clinical Journal of Pain 31: 564-572
  • [16] Garrett B., Taverner T., McDade P. (2017) Virtual reality as an adjunct home therapy in chronic pain management: An exploratory study. JMIR Medical Informatics 5(2): e11
  • [17] Gershon J., Zimand E., Pickering M., Rothbaum B.O., Hodges L. (2004). A pilot and feasibility study of virtual reality as a distraction for children with cancer. Journal American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 43 (10): 1243-1249
  • [18] Gold J.I., Belmont K., Thomas D. (2007). The neurobiology of virtual reality pain attenuation. Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking 10(4): 536-544
  • [19] Gupta A., Scott K., Dukewich M. (2017) Innovative technology using virtual reality in the treatment of pain: Does it reduce pain via distraction, or is there more to it? Pain Medicine 19(1): 151-159
  • [20] Haik J., Tessone A., Nota A., Mendes D., Raz L., Goldan O., Regev E., Winkler E., Mor E., Orenstein A., Hollombe I. (2006). The use of video capture virtual reality in burn rehabilitation: the possibilities. Journal of Burn Care and Research 27(2): 195-197
  • [21] Hoffman H.G. (2004) Virtual reality therapy. Scientific American 291(2): 58-65
  • [22] Hoffman H.G., Chambers G.T., Meyer W.J., 3rd, Arceneaux L.L., Russell W.J., Seibel E.J., Richards T.L., Sharar S.R., Patterson D.R. (2011) Virtual reality as an adjunctive non-pharmacologic analgesic for acute burn pain during medical procedures. Annals of Behavioural Medicine 41(2): 183-191
  • [23] Hoffman H.G., Patterson D.R., Carrougher G.J. (2000). Use of virtual reality for adjunctive treatment of adult burn pain during physical therapy: a controlled study. The Clinical Journal of Pain 16(3), 244-250
  • [24] Hoffman H.G., Patterson D.R., Carrougher G.J., Sharar S.R. (2001). Effectiveness of virtual reality-based pain control with multiple treatments. The Clinical Journal of Pain 17(3), 229-235
  • [25] Hoffman H.G., Patterson D.R., Seibel E., Soltani M., Jewett-Leahy L., Sharar S.R. (2008) Virtual reality pain control during burn wound debridement in the hydrotank. The Clinical Journal of Pain 24 (4): 299-304
  • [26] Hoffman H.G., Richards T.L., Van Oostrom T., Coda B.A., Jensen M.P., Blough D.K., Sharar S.R. (2007) The analgesic effects of opioids and immersive virtual reality distraction: Evidence from subjective and functional brain imaging assessments. Anesthesia and Analgesia 105(6): 1776-1783
  • [27] Hser Y.I., Evans E., Grella C., Ling W., Anglin D. (2015) Long-term course of opioid addiction. Harvard Review of Psychiatry 23: 76-89
  • [28] Jack D., Boian R., Merians A.S., Tremaine M., Burdea G.C., Adamovich S.V., Recce M., Poizner H. (2001). Virtual reality-enhanced stroke rehabilitation. IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering 9(3): 308-318
  • [29] Jacobsen L., Mariano A. (2001) General considerations of chronic pain. In: Loeser JD, Butler SH, Chapman CR, et al, eds. Bonica’s Management of Pain. 3rd ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 241-254
  • [30] Jacox A.K., Carr D.B., Chapman C.R. et al. (1992) Acute pain management: Operative or medical procedures and Trauma clinical practice guideline. No 1, Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. AHCPR publication 92-0032
  • [31] Jones T, Moore T, Choo J. (2016) The Impact of Virtual Reality on Chronic Pain. PLoS One 11(12): e0167523
  • [32] Keefe F.J., Huling D.A., Coggins M.J., Keefe D.F., Rosenthal M.Z., Herr N.R., Hoffman H.G. (2012) Virtual reality for persistent pain: A new direction for behavioural pain management. Pain 153(11): 2163-2166
  • [33] Kuhlen T., Dohle C. (1995) Virtual reality for physically disabled people. Computers in Biology and Medicine 25: 205-211
  • [34] Kumar K.H., Elavarasi P. (2016). Definition of pain and classification of pain disorders. Journal of Advanced Clinical & Research Insights 3: 87-90
  • [35] Leibovici V., Magora F., Cohen S., Ingher A. (2009) Effects of virtual reality for phantom limb pain: from stump motion to agency and analgesia. Disability and Rehabilitation 31: 846-854
  • [36] Li A., Montano Z., Chen VJ., Gold J.I. (2012). Virtual reality and pain management: current trend and future directions. Pain Management 1(2): 147-157
  • [37] Loreto-Quijada D., Gutierrez-Maldonado J., Nieto R., Gutierrez-Martinez O., Ferrer-Garcia M., Saldana C., Fuste-Escolano A., Liutsko L. (2014). Differential effects of two virtual reality interventions: Distraction versus pain control. Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking 17: 353-358
  • [38] Maani C.V., Hoffman H.G., DeSocio P.A., Morrow M., Gaylin C., Magula J. (2008). Pain control during wound care for combat-related burn injuries using custom articulated arm mounted virtual reality goggles. Journal of CyberTherapy and Rehabilitation 1(2): 193-198
  • [39] Maani C.V., Hoffman H.G., Morrow M., Maiers A., Gaylord K., McGhee L.L. DeSocio PA (2011). Virtual reality pain control during burn wound debridement of combat-related burn injuries using robot-like arm mounted VR googles. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care 71 (1 Suppl): S125-130
  • [40] Mahrer N.E., Gold J.I. (2009) The use of virtual reality for pain control: a review. Current Pain and Headache Report 13(2): 100-109
  • [41] Malloy K.M., Milling L.S. (2010). The effectiveness of virtual reality distraction for pain reduction: A systematic review. Clinical Psychology Review 30: 1011-1018
  • [42] Matijevic Dunajcik, V., Secic A., Masic V., Sunic M., Kolak Z., Znika M. (2013). Virtual reality in rehabilitation and therapy. Acta Clinica Croatia 52: 453-457
  • [43] McCaffery M, Beebe A. (1989). Pain: clinical manual for nursing practice. C.V. Mosby, St Louis.
  • [44] Mcpherson M.L., Canaday BrR., Heit H.A., et al. (2004). A pharmacist’s guide to the clinical assessment and management of pain. In: Science PPa, editor. University of Maryland, Baltimore: American Pharmacist Association.
  • [45] Melzack R., Wall P.D. (1965) Pain mechanism: A new theory. Science 150: 971-979
  • [46] Merskey H., Albe Fessard D., Bonica J.J., Carmon A., Dubner R., Kerr F.W.L., Lindblom U., Mumford J.M., Nathan P.W., Noordenbos W., Pagni C.A., Renaer M.J., Sternbach R.A., Sunderland S. (1979). Pain terms: A list with definitions and notes on usage. Recommended by the IASP subcommittee on taxonomy. Pain 6: 249-952
  • [47] Mirelman A., Maidan I., Herman T., Deutsch J., Giladi N., Hausdorff J. (2010). Virtual reality for gait training: can it induce motor learning to enhance complex walking and reduce fall risk in patients with Parkinson’s disease? Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biomedical Sciences and Medical Sciences 66(2): 234-240
  • [48] Morris L.D., Louw Q.A., Grimmer K.A., Meintjes E. (2015). Targeting pain catastrophization in patients with fibromyalgia using virtual reality exposure therapy: A proof-of-concept study. Journal of Physical Therapy Science 27: 3461-3467
  • [49] Mosso J.L., Obrador G.T., Wiederhold B., Wiederhold M., Lara V., Santander A. (2012) Cybertherapy in Medicine- Experience at the Universidad Panamericana, IMSS and ISSSTE Mexico.
  • [50] Mura G. (2010) Metaplasticity in virtual worlds: Aesthetics and Semantic Concepts. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. The Mediation Chamber; pp. 133-156
  • [51] Oneal B.J., Patterson D.R., Soltani M., Teeley A., Jensen M.P. (2008) Virtual reality hypnosis in the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain: a case report. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 56(4): 451-462
  • [52] Patterson D.R., Hoffman H.G., Palacios A.G., Jensen M.J. (2006). Analgesic effects of posthypnotic suggestions and virtual reality distraction on thermal pain. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 115, 834-841
  • [53] Patterson D.R., Jensen M.P., Wiechman S.A., Sharar S.R. (2010) Virtual reality hypnosis for pain associated with recovery from physical trauma. The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 58(3): 288-300
  • [54] Ramachandran V.S., Seckel E.L. (2013) Using mirror visual feedback and virtual reality to treat fibromyalgia. Medical Hypotheses 75: 495-496
  • [55] Rand D., Kizony K., Feintuch U., Katz N. (2005) Virtual reality in neurorehabilitation. In: Textbook of neural repair and neurorehabilitation. Selzer M.E., Cohen L., Gage F.H., Clarke S., Duncan P.W., editors. New York: Cambridge Press.
  • [56] Reid D.T. (2002). Benefits of a virtual play rehabilitation environment for children with cerebral palsy on perceptions of self-efficacy: A pilot study. Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation 5(3): 141-148
  • [57] Riva G. (2006) Virtual reality. In. Wiley Encyclopedia of biomedical engineering. Grad: Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
  • [58] Rizzo AA, Kim G (2005) A SWOT analysis of the field of virtual rehabilitation and therapy. Presence: Teleoperators and virtual environments 14(2): 119-146
  • [59] Rose F.D., Attree E.A., Johnson D.A. (1996) Virtual reality: an assistive technology in neurological rehabilitation. Current Opinion in Neurology 9: 461-467
  • [60] Rudd R.A., Seth P., David F., Scholl L. (2016). Increases in drug and opioid-involved overdose deaths- United States, 2010-2015. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 65: 1445
  • [61] Saring-Bahat H., Weiss P.L., Laufer Y. (2010) Neck pain assessment in a virtual environment. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2010; 35(4): E105-E112.
  • [62] Sharar S.R., Carrougher G.J., Nakamura D., Hoffman H.G., Blough D.K., Patterson D.R. (2007). Factors influencing the efficacy of virtual reality distraction analgesia during postburn physical therapy: preliminary results from 3 ongoing studies. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 88 (12 Suppl 2), S43-49
  • [63] Sharar S.R., Miller W., Teeley A., Soltani M., Hoffman H.G., Jensen M.P., Patterson D.R. (2008). Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics 8(11): 1667-1674
  • [64] Sherman W., Craig A. (2002) Understanding virtual reality: Interface, application, and design. California: Morgan Kaufmann
  • [65] Shiri S., Feintuch U., Weiss N., Pustlnik A., Geffen T., Kay B., Meiner Z., Berger I. (2013). A virtual reality system combined with biofeedback for treating pediatric chronic headache- a pilot study. Pain Medicine 14: 621-627
  • [66] Sveistrup H. (2004). Motor rehabilitation using virtual reality. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 1(1): 10
  • [67] Tarr M.J., Warren W.H. (2002) Virtual reality in behavioural neuroscience and beyond. Nature Neuroscience 5: 1089-1092
  • [68] Teoh N., Stjernsward J. (1992) WHO cancer pain relief program: ten years on. IASP Newsletter.
  • [69] Thienhaus O., Cole B.E. (2002). Classification of Pain. Pain Management: A Practical Guide for Clinicians. 27-36
  • [70] Turk D.C., Okifuji A. (2001). Pain and taxonomies of pain In: Bonica’s management of pain. Pp17-25., 3rd edition. Ed. Loeser J.D., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia.
  • [71] Van Bottenburg M., Salome L. (2010). The indoorisation of outdoor sports: An exploration of the rise of lifestyle sports in artificial settings. Leisure Studies 29, 143-160
  • [72] Van Twillert B., Bremer M., Faber A.W. (2007). Computer-generated virtual reality to control pain and anxiety in pediatric and adult burn patients during wound dressing changes. Journal of Burn Care and Research 28(5), 694-702
  • [73] Villemure C., Bushnell MC. (2002) Cognitive modulation of pain: How do attention and emotional influence pain processing? Pain 95, 195-199
  • [74] Vowles K.E., McEntee M.L., Julnes P.S., Frohe T., Ney J.P., van der Goes D.N. (2015). Rates of opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction in chronic pain: A systematic review and data synthesis. Pain 156: 569-576
  • [75] Wiederhold B.K., Gao K., Sulea C., Wiederhold M.D. (2014). Virtual reality as a distraction technique in chronic pain patients. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Network 17(4): 346-352
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.