Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pain Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Date:
November 26, 2008
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
By manipulating the appearance of a chronically achy hand, researchers have found they could increase or decrease the pain and swelling in patients moving their symptomatic limbs. The findings reveal a profound top-down effect of body image on body tissues, according to the researchers.

By manipulating the appearance of a chronically achy hand, researchers have found they could increase or decrease the pain and swelling in patients moving their symptomatic limbs. The findings— reported in the November 25th issue of Current Biology — reveal a profound top-down effect of body image on body tissues, according to the researchers.

"The brain is capable of many 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.)

In the study, the researchers 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, and—perhaps more surprisingly—the 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 researchers reported.

They aren't yet sure how this phenomenon works at the level of neurons. However, the researchers said, a possible philosophical explanation comes from the notion that protective responses—including the experience of pain—are activated according to 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.

The researchers include G. Lorimer Moseley, University of Oxford, UK, Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, Sydney, Australia; Timothy J. Parsons, University of Oxford, UK; and Charles Spence, University of Oxford, UK.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Pain Is In The Eye Of The Beholder." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125141610.htm>.
Cell Press. (2008, November 26). Pain Is In The Eye Of The Beholder. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125141610.htm
Cell Press. "Pain Is In The Eye Of The Beholder." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125141610.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins