Virtual Reality and Chronic Pain

Virtual Reality and Chronic Pain

By Ed Coghlan.

I received an email from Valerie Biscardi earlier this fall.  I know Valerie a little bit—and know her to be a serious person who has suffered from migraines and trigeminal neuralgia since she was a youngster and ten years ago was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

She wanted to talk with about using virtual reality to address her chronic pain.

Biscardi’s health issues forced to retire from her government job prematurely. She spends a lot of time painting—and it won’t surprise you that her painting often tries to describe her chronic pain.

Like all chronic pain patients can attest, it’s a daily battle for Valerie.

“As a long-time chronic pain sufferer I’ve tried a lot of things,” she said. “I’m always willing to try something because if anything can help, even for a short time, it makes my day better.”

So she tried a device made by a small company called AppliedVR which creates a visual experience for chronic pain patients that teach what the company called “essential skills and education for learning to live with chronic pain. Each module covers a different topic such as breathing techniques, mindfulness, psychoeducation, and positive thinking.”

“You have to breathe right, which took me a while to figure out. The whole process literally takes your mind off your pain and onto the visual images,” she said. “Often I would experience a reduction in my pain for a while.”

“The device would coach me to slow my breathing. And when I did the trees would move with my breathing, the better you do it the more beautiful and larger the images become. It has taken me a while to do it correctly, but I look forward to it. I want to emphasize it doesn’t eliminate my pain, but it does reduce it.”

When you wake up in pain every day, you manage your life differently. You asked your loved ones to change their lives, too. The device made me hopeful that for some time I can reduce my pain, which makes my day better and better days is what every chronic pain patient wants.”

To see her experience described in the company video, click here.

If you have some experiences that have helped you and might help others, let us know.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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chuck darrah

You gotta be kidding me


I just don’t see how that bulky device could be any more beneficial than meditation or yoga….both of which include proper breathing. It looks very uncomfortable & it’d probably make me claustrophobic & give me a headache, so I’ll pass. But good luck to anyone who wants to try it.

Maureen M.

I can not find a video on the website…help? Also, anyone know the cost of something like this? Thank you. Maureen M.

WA State Suffer

I also tried the same virtual reality and it helped when your pain is low and for me it helped when I was waiting for my pain medications to start working but not for a major pain flare up. I wanted the distraction and breathing to work for me, but when your pain is bad, it doesn’t work at least for me. At the end of the trial I would love to have the unit for regular pain to help me relax and to distract me, it really worked for that. I suffer from Central Pain Syndrome which affects both of my legs which feels like severe nerve pain, but when my pain hits a 7 and up on the pain scale, it didn’t work.


Ten years ago, during year 1 of my pain, I took a mind-body class, which didn’t help for the most part. I couldnt’ understand anything the teacher was saying, while those around me seemed to get it easily.
But during one individual conversation when I was telling the instructor my difficulties, she had me imagine doing what I love. Which was being on a beach. So she guided me thru an exercise, but when she said to imagine stretching out on the blanket on the sand, I said that I couldn’t becasue it hurt too much; my pelvic pain makes it impossible to stretch out and it hurt in my imagination too. She was impressed with how strong my vision — or whatever she called it — was. Still didn’t help.


I wish we could edit our comments - I found this and it looks like you can sign up for a test program


This is open to ‘professionals’ - I could not find anywhere on the site where I could try this and it does look good. “REQUEST A COMPLIMENTARY ONE-MONTH VR TRIAL FOR YOUR PRACTICE” well, that sure does not help me. I have a VR unit and I’d love to get some of these programs but it looks like professionals only.

Rebecca Davis

What a great idea! I’ll share it with my provider at my next appointment at my pain clinic
Thanks so much,

An excellent discussion Mr. Coghlan, also Valerie thank you for this new helpful tip. I have something that works well when it comes to pain also to share with all of you. A bathtub filled with a lot of warm water, just as warm as you can possibly stand it and a bag or carton of Epsom salts. I know it seems pretty simple, but I can’t begin to tell you the money I’ve spent on Epsom salts. Every penny has been well worth it! At times when I got in, I thought am I seriously going to be able to get out? The answer is yes and how amazing it can make ones pain diminish! Of course this won’t work for migraine headaches, and is not a permanent cure-all though I know for osteoarthritis and joint pain it works wonders! Just food for thought. In the meantime my fellow pain warriors, brothers and sisters, my prayers are with every single one of you. May God always bless and watch over you!

Pamela Aylor

I could not find her talking about her experience