Could video games help treat chronic back pain?

Put simply, yes they could. Read on for more details on how some clever designers are using computer games to “treat” back pain.  BUT, and it’s a big but… IF you put the phrases back pain and video games next to one another, this Edinburgh osteopath would expect that to read back pain is caused by video games.

Back pain and video games

There are so many people who spend hours at a time playing video games. Whether you have amazing posture or the worst possible posture, such long periods in one position are not good for you.  It leads to what we call “sustained loading”.  And sustained loading leads to tissue fatigue.  Whether that be your muscles, tendons or ligaments.  The tissues slowly tire and eventually micro-tears occur and inflammation kicks in.  So DON’T spend long periods in one position.  Get up and take frequent breaks. Change position frequently.

How video games may help back pain

Imagine if the game had been designed to guide you to do movements that eased your pain.  And movements that helped to increase your coordination and endurance.  Here’s an example of a device that was designed to do exactly that.  It’s not exactly Grand Theft Auto.  But with a few tweeks and input from a game developer, I’m sure it could become more engaging.

So, do video games help treat chronic back pain?

I’m sure these applications will mature quite rapidly, and start to involve virtual reality technology too.  I really like this one which looks more fun.  They will become more mainstream too, being built for existing gaming platforms like Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo.

What are the advantages of video games for treating back pain?

Some people are just not keen to do exercises.  The theory goes that making it more fun increases the likelihood that you’ll do it.  Your activity can also be tracked when you use a video game approach.  The system – and those that have access to it – knows whether you’re doing your exercises or not.  Mind you, it currently doesn’t know it’s really you.  It could be anyone doing your exercises – even the dog.  However, it’s only a matter of time before they combine the game with iris-recognition software or similar so that you can’t game the game!

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