Advances and Tendencies: A Review of Recent Studies on Virtual Reality for Pain Management

  • Zhejun Liu
  • Sijia Wangluo
  • Hua DongEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9740)


In the progress of civilization, humans have developed various ways of pain management. Virtual reality (VR in short), a technology to create an illusion of presence in cyberspace is a new addition to this inventory. Because of its immersive and distractive nature, researchers believe that VR may be safer and more effective than traditional analgesic methods. There has been a number of studies in this field and the interest continues to grow. In order to summarize achievements obtained so far and figure out gaps for future research possibilities, by reviewing more than 100 articles, this article try to point out novel or unusual research perspectives so as to suggest future research possibilities.


Virtual reality VR Pain management Literature review 



This article is a part of the results from the interdisciplinary research project “Arts and Wellbeing” supported by Tongji University.


  1. 1.
    Sato, K., et al.: Nonimmersive virtual reality mirror visual feedback therapy and its application for the treatment of complex regional pain syndrome: an open-label pilot study. Pain Med. 11(4), 622–629 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Botella, C., et al.: Virtual reality in the treatment of fibromyalgia: a pilot study. Cyberpsychology Behav. Soc. Netw. 16(3), 215–223 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Banos, R.M., et al.: A positive psychological intervention using virtual reality for patients with advanced cancer in a hospital setting: a pilot study to assess feasibility. Support. Care Cancer 21(1), 263–270 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Villiger, M., et al.: Virtual reality-augmented neurorehabilitation improves motor function and reduces neuropathic pain in patients with incomplete spinal cord injury. Neurorehabilitation Neural Repair 27(8), 675–683 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Schneider, S.M., Hood, L.E.: Virtual reality: a distraction intervention for chemotherapy. Oncol. Nurs. Forum 34(1), 39–46 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hoffman, H.G., et al.: Virtual reality pain control during burn wound debridement in the hydrotank. Clin. J. Pain 24(4), 299–304 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Maani, C.V., et al.: Virtual reality pain control during burn wound debridement of combat-related burn injuries using robot-like arm mounted VR Goggles. J. Trauma-Injury Infect. Crit. Care 71, S125–S130 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Miller, K., et al.: A novel technology approach to pain management in children with burns: a prospective randomized controlled trial. Burns 37(3), 395–405 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Patterson, D.R., et al.: Virtual reality hypnosis for pain associated with recovery from physical trauma. Int. J. Clin. Exp. Hypn. 58(3), 288–300 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hoffman, H.G., et al.: Virtual reality pain control during physical therapy range of motion exercises for a patient with multiple blunt force trauma injuries. Cyberpsychology Behav. 12(1), 47–49 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Gold, J.I., et al.: Effectiveness of virtual reality for pediatric pain distraction during IV placement. Cyberpsychology Behav. 9(2), 207–212 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Windich-Biermeier, A., et al.: Effects of distraction on pain, fear, and distress during venous port access and venipuncture in children and adolescents with cancer. J. Pediatr. Oncol. Nurs. 24(1), 8–19 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hoffman, H.G., et al.: The analgesic effects of oploids and immersive virtual reality distraction: evidence from subjective and functional brain imaging assessments. Anesth. Analg. 105(6), 1776–1783 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Rutter, C.E., Dahlquist, L.M., Weiss, K.E.: Sustained efficacy of virtual reality distraction. J. Pain 10(4), 391–397 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Loreto-Quijada, D., et al.: Differential effects of two virtual reality interventions: distraction versus pain control. Cyberpsychology Behav. Soc. Netw. 17(6), 353–358 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gordon, N.S., et al.: Interactive gaming reduces experimental pain with or without a head mounted display. Comput. Hum. Behav. 27(6), 2123–2128 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kipping, B., et al.: Virtual reality for acute pain reduction in adolescents undergoing burn wound care: a prospective randomized controlled trial. Burns 38(5), 650–657 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Nilsson, S., et al.: Active and passive distraction in children undergoing wound dressings. J. Pediatr. Nurs.-Nurs. Care Child. Families 28(2), 158–166 (2013)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hoffman, H.G., et al.: Virtual reality helmet display quality influences the magnitude of virtual reality analgesia. J. Pain 7(11), 843–850 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Muhlberger, A., et al.: Pain modulation during drives through cold and hot virtual environments. Cyberpsychology Behav. 10(4), 516–522 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Dahlquist, L.M., et al.: Virtual-reality distraction and cold-pressor pain tolerance: does avatar point of view matter? Cyberpsychology Behav. Soc. Netw. 13(5), 587–591 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Czub, M., Piskorz, J.: How body movement influences virtual reality analgesia? In: 7th International Conference on Interactive Technologies and Games, iTAG 2014, 16-17 October 2014. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc., Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom (2014)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Magora, F., Leibovici, V., Cohen, S.: Virtual reality methodology for pruritus and pain. In: 2009 Virtual Rehabilitation International Conference, VR 2009, June 29 2009 – July 2 2009. IEEE Computer Society, Haifa, Israel (2009)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Dahlquist, L.M., et al.: Effects of videogame distraction and a virtual reality type head-mounted display helmet on cold pressor pain in young elementary school-aged children. J. Pediatr. Psychol. 35(6), 617–625 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Schneider, S.M., Kisby, C.K., Flint, E.P.: Effect of virtual reality on time perception in patients receiving chemotherapy. Support. Care Cancer 19(4), 555–564 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Georgoulis, S., et al.: Epione: an innovative pain management system using facial expression analysis, biofeedback and augmented reality-based distraction. In: 2nd International Conference on Intelligent Networking and Collaborative Systems, INCOS 2010, 24-26 November 2010. IEEE Computer Society, Thessaloniki, Greece (2010)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Konstantatos, A.H., et al.: Predicting the effectiveness of virtual reality relaxation on pain and anxiety when added to PCA morphine in patients having burns dressings changes. Burns 35(4), 491–499 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Arts and MediaTongji UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.College of Design and InnovationTongji UniversityShanghaiChina

Personalised recommendations