Health Quiz: Which New Treatment Was Recently Found to Relieve Back Pain?

Which New Treatment Was Recently Found to Relieve Back Pain?

  1. Botox Injections
  2. Placebo Pills
  3. Weight Lifting
  4. Vitamin C

Answer: Placebo Pills

An article published by the Bet Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital) discusses the outcome of a recent study. The study demonstrated that patients who knowingly took placebo pills in conjunction with traditional lower back pain treatment experienced significantly more improvement than those who just received traditional lower back pain treatment.

“These findings turn our understanding of the placebo effect on its head,” said joint senior author Ted Kaptchuk, director of the Program for Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “This new research demonstrates that the placebo effect is not necessarily elicited by patients’ conscious expectation that they are getting an active medicine, as long thought. Taking a pill in the context of a patient-clinician relationship – even if you know it’s a placebo – is a ritual that changes symptoms and probably activates regions of the brain that modulate symptoms.”

“Kaptchuk, with colleagues at Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada (ISPA) in Lisbon, Portugal, studied 97 patients with chronic lower back pain (cLBP), which causes more disability than any other medical condition worldwide. After all participants were screened and examined by a registered nurse practitioner and board certified pain specialist, the researchers gave all patients a 15-minute explanation of the placebo effect. Only then was the group randomized into one of two groups; the treatment-as-usual (TAU) group or the open-label placebo (OLP) group.” – BIDMC

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