Can a placebo work for back pain, even when you now you’re taking it?
Can a placebo work for back pain, even when you now you’re taking it? 27 Jun 2019
My initial response to this question, is off course not. A placebo is anything that seems to be a "real" medical treatment -- but isn't i.e. it is fake. The judgement of what is fake is based on the availability of scientific evidence. Traditionally in medical trails patients don't know if they are taking a placebo. For most of my readers, they would probably refuse to take a placebo, as they know its a placebo, so you would think your wasting your time. I would agree with this, but was a bit surprised by some recent research.
Around half of 97 patients with chronic lower back pain were given a pill bottle with the word "Placebo" printed on it - after they been told that a placebo contains no active ingredient - along with a standard NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) pain killer, while the remainder of the group was just given the NSAID.
After taking the pills twice a day for three weeks, the patients taking they placebo plus the NSAID reported a 30% reduction in pain compared with a 9% decrease in those given only the NSAID.
So the researches discovered that a placebo may be effective treatment for lower back pain even when people know they are taking a placebo!
Carvalho, Cláudia; Caetano et al, 2016, Open-label placebo treatment in chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial, Journal of Pain, December 2016, Vol 157, Issue 2, p 2766 - 2772