I was so heartened when I spotted this story on the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12383092
It gives details of work done at UCL , which corroborates work done in other departments such as Oxford and Sydney that shows visual awareness of the body affects how the brain perceives pain.
Essentially it shows that if you look at part of the body that is experiencing or about to experience pain you will actually feel less pain. Brilliant isn't it? It is something physios have been aware of for some time but until recently have not had the scientific evidence to support our empirical observations.
Only this week I was explaining to a patient how important it was for her to look at her arm when she was moving it, using a mirror if necessary and comparing it to the other side. She had found it difficult to do this for several months but once she began to do so things rapidly improved. By not moving or looking at part of the body the section of the cortex involved with that area shrinks. Happily this can be reversed by the simple expedient of looking and moving. Pain is simultaneously eased by the same phenomenon. Sounds simple doesn't it!! In many ways it is - it is the underlying mechanism that is complex.