The following is a summary of “In-Home Virtual Reality Program for Chronic Lower Back Pain: A Randomized Sham-Controlled Effectiveness Trial in a Clinically Severe and Diverse Sample,” published in the December 2023 issue of Pain by Maddox et al.
Researchers performed a retrospective study to test if a virtual reality program for chronic back pain is better than a sham at relieving pain.
The study enrolled a nationally representative group of individuals with self-reported nonmalignant chronic low back pain lasting for at least three months. These participants had an average pain intensity and pain interference rating of at least 4 out of 10. They were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either a virtual reality program for chronic low back pain (RelieVRx) or an active sham treatment. Data collection occurred between January 31, 2022, and October 31, 2022. The study assessed group differences in brief pain inventory, pain intensity, and pain interference up to day 56, which marked the end of the treatment period.
The modified intention-to-treat analysis included 1,067 participants (772 women, 293 men, and 2 others; mean ± SD age, 50.8±13.2 years), who were randomized in a 1:1 ratio into two groups that were RelieVRx (n=536) and Sham (n=531). RelieVRx demonstrated superiority over Sham in reducing pain intensity and pain interference from pretreatment to day 56. The difference from Sham for pain intensity was 0.406 (95% CI, 0.170-0.642), and for pain interference, it was 0.523 (95% CI, 0.285-0.760). These reductions were clinically meaningful (pain intensity: 2.0 [out of 10] points [1.73-2.06], pain interference: 2.3 points [1.99-2.33]).
The study found virtual reality therapy improved pain more than sham treatment in adults with chronic lower back pain.