How placebos can work even when patients know they're not real

Taking a placebo helps to ease pain even when patients know it isn't the real thing, scientists claim.
Fake medication was found to cut initial back discomfort and disability by a third, a study found.  While patients who had their usual drugs - which have previously found to be ineffective - reported no reduction in their pain.  Experts say the findings could be an end to the ethical issue of deceiving patients by telling them they are taking fake drugs. 

Back pain causes more disability than any other condition, with 40 per cent of working-age Britons suffering from the complaint in the past year. Treatment costs the economy £1 billion a year and when lost earnings are factored in, the bill reaches £12 billion. 

Portuguese researchers studied 97 adults with low back pain lasting for around three months. They were randomly assigned to three weeks of treatment of their usual medications alone, or with placebos on top. But unlike usual studies, patients knew they were taking a placebo and were explained about how their body may respond to the sham pills anyway. Measures of back pain and disability were compared between both groups.

Source  - Daily Mail

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