Exercising arthritic joints are very painful for patients but a new study has revealed that the pain in joints could be reduced by as much as half through an optical illusion that tricks the patients into believing that their joints are being massaged.
The trick was found out by an accident when researchers at University of Nottingham were demonstrating the illusion of finger stretching on an arthritic patient. The patient revealed that she did not feel any pain and even asked whether she can take home the machine.
The researchers then tested out the theory among 20 elderly osteoarthritis sufferers who were not using any drugs to lessen the pain. The researchers found that the pain lessened by more than 50 percent among 17 patients.
According to the study that will be published in the journal Rheumatology, the trick involves placing a hand inside a box that contains a camera. A real time image is then projected on a screen which then shows someone apparently gently stretching and shrinking the fingers from the other side of the box, tricking the mind into believing that someone is massaging your hand.
Arthritis Research UK's Professor Alan Silman said that the findings had a big potential in developing a drug free treatment in relieving pain. "Although this research is in the very early stages and further work needs to be done, it's clearly an area with a lot of future potential and one which we're also investigating", he said.