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Illusion 'reduces pain in arthritis'

Illusion 'reduces pain in arthritis'
15th April 2011

A simple illusion could significantly lessen arthritic pain in the hand, research has shown, which could help patients with osteoarthritis, who may be looking to find a care home.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham tricked the brain into believing that the painful section of the hand was being stretched or shrunk.

This illusion halved the pain felt by 85 per cent of participants, according to the letter published in journal Rheumatology.

Dr Catherine Preston, of the university, explained how the technique was stumbled upon during an open day during a demonstration of MIRAGE technology, which video captures of a hand and uses visual effects and pushing or pulling the hand to fool the brain into thinking it is being stretched.

"During the course of the day the grandmother of one of the children wanted to have a go, but warned us to be gentle because of the arthritis in her fingers. We were giving her a practical demonstration of illusory finger stretching when she announced: 'My finger doesn't hurt anymore!'," explained Ms Preston.

This comes after a study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery showed that depression worsened the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis in older people.

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