The pain of arthritis can be reduced by an optical illusion which uses mirrors to trick the brain and reduces the perception of pain, according to neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran. This simple trick is based on a technique called mirror visual therapy.
The mirror based therapy makes it appear as if the sufferer's arthritic joints have been replaced by healthier ones, causing the brain to believe that they are less stiff and painful, and easy to move. Researchers could not clear what exactly made the subjects feel less pain. They feel that the sight of 'their' hand (which is actually the researcher's) as a young, healthy hand with no arthritic deformities might have made them feel better. The appearance of effortless movements may be responsible for lack of pain. There is also a possibility that the exercise undertaken during the study could have loosen pain grip.
The mirror therapy has already been used successfully for treating patients with phantom limb. Unlike non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAID's), that come with many side-effects, mirror therapy is non-invasive, safe and relatively cheap. All it takes is a mirror and a healthy person to help with the therapy.
The study was presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington DC.