Understanding the Purpose of a Placebo in Treating Persistent Pain

If you have been hurt, you will expect the pain to go away immediately after getting treatment. This may persist for weeks or months. If the pain is persistent for three months or more, then it is chronic. You may feel the pain all the time or it could be recurring. Scientists are trying to find out if it is safe to give people with chronic pain, sugar pills. They claim that since people are different, a placebo is likely to affect some people. A placebo is a treatment that offers no therapy. It could be in form of injections, pills, or surgery. A placebo benefits a patient psychologically. A patient can feel changes after taking a tablet or getting an injection. However, in some cases, a placebo can affect a person’s blood pressure and this is a physiological change. When testing the placebos for chronic pain, the patient could positively respond to the drugs. The same drugs may affect another patient. Therefore, testing the drugs first is essential because they have many effects with time.

Scientists in Illinois wanted to know if one could tell the extent to which a patient will respond to a placebo before consuming it. They decided to study about this. They got volunteers with persistent pain and split the group into two. One group of patients took the drug, while the other patients attended clinic sessions but did not get any treatment. After that procedure, each of the patient filled out a questionnaire that would tell how they felt. Some patients who had taken the drug, felt relief from the usual pain they always feel. The scientists examined the patients who felt the placebo’s effect again. Scientists later found out that volunteers, who responded well to the drug, had no balance between their left and right side of parts of their brains.

Professor Apkarian states that since patients respond differently to the placebo, you should tell them the truth before giving them the drugs. He further says that you should tell them that though it not a therapeutic drug, the brain might respond to it. Researchers should keep testing these drugs to make things easier in the future. The more doctors understand about this drug, the easier it will be to treat these diseases without giving patient dangerous chemicals. This is in relation to what the professor says that it is better to treat an illness with a drug that has no active chemicals, instead of using a drug with chemicals and achieve same results.

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