Do placebos have a place in treatment of low back pain?

Placebo medicine is often used as a ‘control’ in research. However, it’s long been known that placebos may effectively reduce all kinds of symptoms, effecting a curative outcome. A study published online in Pain on October 14, compared the results of 83 adults with persistent low back pain in Portugal, where some were given placebo with ‘treatment as usual’ for three weeks and some who had ‘treatment as usual’ alone. The placebo plus treatment as usual group had significantly greater pain reduction scores than those subjects who had ‘treatment as usual’ only . A second part of study continued, allowing the ‘treatment as usual’ alone group to have placebo added. Again, they scored significantly higher with reduced pain and better ADL (activity of daily living) scores. The co-investigator of the research project, Irving Kirsch, PhD, told Medscape Medical News “The take-home message is that prescribing placebo openly is a possibility, although we need to look more at what conditions that’s true for in order to replicate the results”.