25 chronic neck pain sufferers were recruited to participate in a study that take a look into pain and the signals that our brain uses to perceive pain. Using new virtual reality technology (Oculus Rift) trigger point therapy is basically tricking the brain into believing that you are not trning your head or back as far as you actually are! Participants were able to turn their head about 6% farther than they normally would.
But when the display overstated head rotation, their pain-free range of
motion shrank by an average of 7%. Amazing!
Using virtual reality to misrepresent how far the neck is turned can
actually change pain experiences in individuals who suffer from chronic
neck pain, according to research published in Psychological Science.
It may seem like our experiences of pain
stem from some objective, physiological source, but research has shown
that many factors-including sensory, cognitive, and emotional cues-can
have a significant influence on if, when, and how we feel pain. These
new results indicate that altering the visual cues that inform the brain
about the body can impact pain:
“Our findings show that the brain does not need danger messages
coming from the tissues of the body in order to generate pain in that
body part-sensable and reliable cues that predict impending pain are
enough to produce the experience of pain,” says researcher G. Lorimer
Moseley of the University of South Australia. “These results suggest a
new approach to developing treatments for pain that are based on
separating the non-danger messages from the danger messages associated
with a movement.”
Moseley, co-author Daniel Harvie, and colleagues recruited 24 chronic neck pain
sufferers from physiotherapy clinics. The participants had experienced
the pain for an average of 11 years, stemming from issues including
posture, tension, repeated strain, trauma, and scoliosis.