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Is mirror therapy all it is cracked up to be? Current evidence and future directions

PainSci » bibliography » Moseley et al 2008
Tags: chronic pain, treatment, debunkery, sensation & touch, odd, pain problems

Three articles on PainSci cite Moseley 2008: 1. The Complete Guide to Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome2. Pain is Weird3. Mind Over Pain

PainSci notes on Moseley 2008:

Mirror therapy appears to be a “fun” way to do a simpler therapy that works just as well: simply visualizing painless movement (motor imagery). For a bunch of excerpts from this article, see Body In Mind.

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Despite widespread support of mirror therapy for pain relief in the peer-reviewed, clinical and popular literature, the overwhelming majority of positive data comes from anecdotal reports, which constitute weak evidence at best. Only two well described and robust trials of mirror therapy in isolation exist, on the basis of which we conclude that mirror therapy per se, is probably no better than motor imagery for immediate pain relief, although it is arguably more interesting and might be helpful if used regularly over an extended period. Three high quality trials indicate positive results for a motor imagery program that incorporates mirror therapy, but the role of mirror therapy in the overall effects is not known. Obviously, more robust clinical trials and experimental investigations are still required. In the meantime, the relative dominance of visual input over somatosensory input suggests that mirrors might have utility in pain management and rehabilitation via multisensory interactions. Indeed, mirrors may still have their place in pain practice, but we should be open-minded as to exactly how.

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Specifically regarding Moseley 2008:

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