As women, it can be difficult for all of us to have a good relationship with the mirror! However, science occasionally encourages us to adjust this attitude. The following summary highlights the key points of an article entitled “Mirrors can alleviate arthritis” from ScienceNews.com. The article highlights that mirrors can positively contribute to our health and well-being. To read the full article, please go to http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/336064/title/Mirrors_can_alleviate_arthritis
A new study from the University of California, San Diego reports that mirrors may be an effective treatment for persistent arthritis pain. Laura Case and colleagues at the university were familiar with previous work that found mirrors to be an effective treatment for chronic pain (such as phantom limb pain), so they hoped to extend this success into the treatment of painful joints.
Researchers recruited eight volunteers with osteo- or rheumatoid arthritis to look into a mirror at Case’s healthy hand where their hand should have been. Then, to “strengthen the sensation of the hand-swap,” researchers simultaneously touched Case’s hand and the volunteer’s painful hand (Sanders, 2011). Finally, volunteers were asked to watch and mimic Case’s hand movements to increase the sensation that the hand in the mirror was actually their own.
Researchers found that volunteers reported an average 1.5-point decrease in pain (on a 10-point pain scale) in the “mirrored” hand. A few participants even reported a 3-point drop! While the long-term effectiveness of this treatment has not been evaluated, this innovative study provides great hope for people hoping to alleviate arthritis pain. Free of side effects, the new therapy may prove to be a cost-effective method of pain relief for people of all ages.