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Why Virtual Reality for Pain works

Virtual reality for pain, will that work? This week I will consider the role that virtual reality can play in the treatment of pain.

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality, VR in short, is the digital world that we look at through VR glasses. Especially in recent years, the technology of VR is developing. Companies like Oculus have released affordable VR glasses to make VR accessible, and it has even become possible to use your mobile phone for VR with special glasses. By using special lenses that are close to the screen and get almost the same image in front of your left and right eye, it seems as if you are really in a 3D world.


Research into the use of Virtual Reality for pain has been going on for some time now. Even before VR glasses became accessible, there were already studies. 

Virtual Reality for pain by using distraction

Research focused mainly on acute pain and distraction. Where we focus our attention has a lot of influence on the amount of pain we feel. Because VR is so distracting, researchers rightly thought that VR could be a good way to distract people from their pain. It turned out that VR distracts more than other ways and works better. In this way, VR is already being used in more and more hospitals. 

VR: More than distraction

In recent years, more and more people have realised that more is possible than distraction with VR. Especially for chronic pain you can't always keep distracting. More about this in the next blog!

3 Exercises you can do yourself

The first studies of pain and VR had to do with attention and distraction. It was found that less attention to pain led to lower pain scores. What can you do yourself to give less attention to your pain? A number of exercises:

  1. At times of pain pay as much attention as possible to what you are doing. Or if you are sitting or lying down, bring it to your breathing.
  2. Distract yourself with music, or TV, at a moment of pain - and keep your attention on this as much as possible.
  3. You can see for yourself if there are VR glasses available for your phone, cheaper VR sets are available for a small amount of money. What happens if you play a special VR app or game when you are in pain?