Almost everyone experiences symptoms of arthritis by the age of 70, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. While many people take glucosamine and chondroitin supplements to help relieve the pain from this condition, a recent study shows that an optical illusion may also improve the symptoms of arthritis.
Scientific American reported on the study, which set out to determine if a mirror illusion used to help amputees eliminate phantom limb pain could also improve arthritis.
"This trick involves looking in a mirror at the reflection of a healthy limb from a certain angle, which causes it to appear where the missing limb should be. Seeing the limb move freely fools the brain into relieving the pain," according to the news source.
Researchers use a modified version of the mirror technique where a scientist superimposed his hand over a participant's arthritic hand. Subjects then mimicked the movements of the researcher's hand with their own unseen hand. After experiencing the illusion that their hand was moving freely and smoothly, the study participants rated their arthritis pain as less than it was before.