Can Virtual Reality Help Ease Chronic Pain?

Wolf had his own stimulus lab experience in Wall, which was used painfully on the hind legs of mice. The animals developed large “fields” of pain that could be easily activated months later with a mild tap or mild heat, even in areas that were not directly touching. “I was altering the functioning of the nervous system in such a way that its properties were altered,” Wolf says. “Pain was not just a measure of peripheral pathology,” he concluded. It could also be the result of abnormal growth within the nervous system – it was a central sensitivity phenomenon.

” Prior to this discovery, he says, “the feeling of pain was always a symptom of a disease, and we now know that pain is often the result of a disease of the nervous system.” Some diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can show both peripheral pathology and central sensitization. Others, such as fibromyalgia, which is characterized by pain throughout the body, are considered to be a problem of the central nervous system itself.

Since Wolf’s experiment, a better understanding of how chronic pain alters the central nervous system has emerged. A. Vania Apkarian’s pain lab at Northwestern University found that when back pain persists, brain activity shifts from sensory and motor areas to emotional areas, including the amygdala and hippocampus. “Now it’s part of the inner psyche,” says Upcreen, “a negative emotional cloud that envelops me.”

The brain takes shape on its own. Patients with chronic pain may notice a significant loss of gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s focus and decision-making area that sits behind our foreheads, as well as in the thalamus, which gives sensory signals. Both areas are important in pain processing. Stimulating neurotransmitters increase, and inhibitors decrease, while catapults and other immune cells increase inflammation. Nervous system, unbalanced, exacerbates and prolongs pain. The system keeps beating like an alarm, even when there is no danger, even when the pain is no longer protective. Instead, it only causes more pain – and the longer it lasts, the deeper the system becomes, and the harder it is to resolve.

There is a famous saying in neuroscience that as neurons are fired together, they begin to interconnect, an example of neuroplasticity in action. But if our brains are really plastic, then the shape that is there can be reshaped. Treatments that target the brain instead of back pain or knee pain – whether through psychotherapy, medication, direct brain stimulation or virtual reality – can theoretically eliminate chronic pain.

In the 1990’s, Hunter Hoffman, a psychiatrist at the University of Washington, began using VR to provide relief to burn patients whose dressings were changing – a painful test that is difficult to treat. ۔ “Before us, no one was using virtual reality to alleviate the pain of patients,” he says. I Its VR program, called Snow World, Patients who snorted in the cold while pounding snowballs on penguins reported that their relief was similar to that found in intravenous opioids. Brain scans confirmed these results: VR and opioids each resulted in a significant decrease in neural activity in pain-related areas.

Unlike most medications and surgical procedures, VR has very few side effects – mostly nausea and motion sickness. The cost of the headsets is now a part of what they once did, and the graphics have improved significantly, resulting in more in-depth experiences and less potential side effects. Hoffman added that “all the major computer companies are investing billions of dollars in virtual reality as a form of Internet” – what Mark Zuckerberg called the “embodied Internet” he announced last fall. Facebook was becoming meta. A few months later, Microsoft unveils plans to acquire Activation Blizzard “Building blocks for Metavers,” the company said. Under the influence of all this technical fermentation, Hoffman predicts that privately-invested VR therapies will quickly become the standard treatment for pain.

Robert Jester, a retired high school biology teacher in Greenport, NY, who was moonlighting as a chimney sweeper – both to support his family and to enjoy the magnificent views – for immediate work in the immediate vicinity. I went. The ladder he took was very small, but it seemed like a simple broom, so he decided to move on anyway. He climbed up, the ladder slipped – and he fell to the hard ground below. The pain in his back was so severe that he could not get the rescue workers out. He could only see the white light.