Those who suffer from chronic back pain would likely do anything to help ease their symptoms. And results of a new study from researchers at Harvard medical school have found that patients knowingly taking a placebo for their pain improved more than patients who took medication for it.
In most human trials, a section of participants will be given a placebo drug so that scientists can compare the results between the real medication and a non-active pill. Those who participate in these studies do not usually know whether they have been allocated the active or non-active medicationor not.
However, in this study, patients with chronic back pain knew they were taking a placebo. On average, this group reported a thirty per cent pain reduction after a three-week course compared to a nine to sixteen per cent reduction among those who were taking active pain medication.
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Ted Kaptchuk, the study author,said that the results of the research showed that, while back pain is a very real condition, individuals have the brain power to relieve more discomfort than they realise. He added, “You’re never going to shrink a tumour or unclog an artery with placebo intervention. It’s not a cure-all, but it makes people feel better, for sure. Our lab is saying you can’t throw the placebo into the trash can. It has clinical meaning, it’s statistically significant, and it relieves patients. It’s essential to what medicine means.”
Claudia Carvalho, who co-authored the study, said that it is important for patients to feel cared for, and added, “Taking placebo pills to relieve symptoms without a warm and empathic relationship with a healthcare provider relationship probably would not work.”
A Comfortable Bed
While medication and placebo pills obviously help with back pain, a good comfortable bed can also work wonders. Here at Beds Glasgow, we have a superb range of beds and mattresses made to provide the ultimate comfort every single night.