| chronic pain

Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy

Short- vs Long-Term Benefits

An article in JAMA Network Open asked, “Do 5 sessions of flotation restricted environmental stimulation therapy [REST] alleviate chronic pain?” Participants floated in a tank of high salt concentrated water heated to skin temperature. Exposure to stimuli—thermal, visual, acoustic, and mechanical—was minimal. The REST clinical trial randomized 99 people, aged 18 to 75, diagnosed with chronic pain disorder with psychological and somatic factors. Participants had 5 sessions, lasting an hour to an hour and a half, with no additional treatments but remaining on whatever treatments they were already on.

Primary outcomes: change in pain intensity. Secondary outcomes included pain related disability, pain areas, depression, anxiety, and quality of life. Although short-term benefits of flotation have been seen in increased relaxation and decreased anxiety and pain, among other outcomes, the study concluded that Patients with chronic pain experienced no long-term benefits from the 5 flotation-REST interventions. Clinically relevant short-term changes in pain in the placebo group suggest that improvements may not be caused by environmental stimulus restriction or effortless floating as previously thought.”


Read the journal article.

Holly Caster