Portuguese researchers recruited 83 people with chronic back pain. They explained to them that a placebo was an inactive substance, like a sugar pill, that contained no medication. Then they randomly assigned the patients to either treatment as usual (in almost all cases, this was pain medication), or treatment plus the placebo. The pills were provided in a prescription medicine bottle marked “Placebo pills. Take 2 pills twice a day.” The study is in the journal Pain.More evidence for my theory that in many people back pain – or perhaps being disabled by back pain – is a response to overall misery rather than some particular injury.
At the start and end of the three-week trial, patients filled out questionnaires describing pain intensity and degree of disability.
The group that got their regular treatment had an average 9 percent reduction in usual pain and a 16 percent reduction in maximum pain. But the placebo group averaged a 30 percent reduction in both usual and maximum pain. The placebo group also reported a 29 percent reduction in disability, while the usual treatment group reported none.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
For Back Pain, Placebos Work Better than Painkillers
In this one study, anyway: