What is it about?

Chronic hand pain affects peoples' ability to carry out normal activities in their daily lives. Some types of chronic pain seem to change the way that people perceive the size and shape of their painful hands which is different to reality. We used visual illusions to alter the appearance of the painful hand so that it looked as the person desired it to appear. By comparing one group that saw the desired hand illusion for a minute to a group where no changes were made to the hand image, we showed that the visual illusion had a rapid effect on reducing hand pain

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Why is it important?

This is the first time that this type of 'desired hand' illusion has been shown to reduce hand pain. These results indicate that this type of illusion has the potential for treating some types of hand pain as an alternative to taking pain medication


Many of the people that we worked with as part of the study have suffered from longstanding pain in their hands and were struggling to manage in their daily lives. As an Occupational Therapist, I also work with people to manage this difficult condition that has no cure and it is really important to find better ways of treating pain without the side effects of medication

Dr Jenny S Lewis
University of the West of England and Royal United Hospitals, Bath NHS Trust

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Visual illusions modulate body perception disturbance and pain in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: A randomised trial, European Journal of Pain, March 2021, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1002/ejp.1766.
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