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Medicineworld.org: Pain is in the eyes of the beholder

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Pain is in the eyes of the beholder




By manipulating the appearance of a chronically achy hand, scientists have found they could increase or decrease the pain and swelling in patients moving their symptomatic limbs. The findingspublished in the November 25th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publicationreveal a profound top-down effect of body image on body tissues, as per the researchers.

"The brain is capable of a number of wonderful things based on its perception of how the body is doing and the risks to which the body seems to be exposed," said G. Lorimer Moseley, who is now at the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute in Australia. (The work was done at the University of Oxford.).



Pain is in the eyes of the beholder

In the study, the scientists asked ten right-handed patients with chronic pain and dysfunction in one arm to watch their own arm while they performed a standardized set of ten hand movements. The participants repeated the movements under four conditions: with no visual manipulation, while looking through binoculars with no magnification, while looking through binoculars that doubled the apparent size of their arm, and while looking through inverted binoculars that reduced the apparent size of their arm.

While the patients' pain was always worse after movement than it was before, the extent to which the pain worsened depended on what people saw. Specifically, the pain increased more when participants viewed a magnified image of their arm during the movements, andperhaps more surprisinglythe pain became less when their arm was seen through inverted binoculars that minimized its size.

The degree of swelling too was less when people watched a "minified" image of their arm during movements than when they watched a magnified or normal image, the scientists reported.

They aren't yet sure how this phenomenon works at the level of neurons. However, the scientists said, a possible philosophical explanation comes from the notion that protective responsesincluding the experience of painare activated as per the brain's implicit perception of danger level. "If it looks bigger, it looks sorer and more swollen," Moseley said. "Therefore, the brain acts to protect it".

While he said the findings don't mean that pain is any less real, they may lead to a new therapeutic approach for reducing pain. His team is now testing visual manipulations as an analgesic strategy for use in clinical settings.


Posted by: Daniel    Source




Did you know?
By manipulating the appearance of a chronically achy hand, scientists have found they could increase or decrease the pain and swelling in patients moving their symptomatic limbs. The findingspublished in the November 25th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publicationreveal a profound top-down effect of body image on body tissues, as per the researchers.

Medicineworld.org: Pain is in the eyes of the beholder

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