Site-specific visual feedback reduces pain perception

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SummaryVisual feedback of one’s own back reduces perceived pain intensity of nociceptive stimulation of the back in chronic back pain patients and in healthy controls.One of the most common forms of chronic pain is back pain. Until now, nothing has been known about the influence of visualizing one’s own back on pain perception at this site. We tested 18 patients with chronic back pain and 18 healthy controls, by implementing online video feedback of the back during painful pressure and subcutaneous electrical stimuli over the trapezius muscle. Pain threshold and pain tolerance were assessed. Pressure pain stimulation intensity was set to 50% above the pain threshold. Subcutaneous stimulation intensity was set to 70% above the pain threshold. Subjects had to rate pain intensity and unpleasantness after each stimulation block on an 11-point numerical rating scale. Visual feedback of the back reduced perceived pain intensity compared to feedback of the hand in both patients and controls. These findings suggest novel intervention modes for chronic back pain based on visualization of body parts by augmented reality applications.

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