According to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, using virtual reality to misrepresent how far the neck is turned can actually change pain experiences in individuals who suffer from chronic neck pain.
G Lorimer Moseley of the University of South Australia along with 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.
Their 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.
The research 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.