Placebo Effect Could Ease Pain in Fibromyalgia Patients, Study Shows

Placebo Effect Could Ease Pain in Fibromyalgia Patients, Study Shows
Patients with chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia experience similar pain relief with a placebo as people without chronic pain, a new study indicates. Harnessing the so-called placebo effect, researchers suggest, could be a viable strategy for treating fibromyalgia and other disorders, and for reducing  dependence on pain medications. The study, "Individuals with chronic pain have the same response to placebo analgesia as healthy controls in terms of magnitude and reproducibility," was published in the journal PAIN. The placebo effect is a phenomenon in which a treatment that is demonstrably not effective results in therapeutic benefits. Yet, what causes such effects remains unclear. Placebo effects most often are discussed in the context of clinical trials and other scientific evaluations; to demonstrate efficacy, a potential therapy must be superior to an inactive placebo. Conditions such as fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis are characterized by chronic pain. Since pain affects everyone differently, it might be particularly amenable to being influenced by the placebo effect. "Pain normally increases negative emotions, which in turn increases the subjective experience of pain ... That is why chronic pain patients have psychological co-morbidities such as anxiety, depression, pain catastrophizing [the inability to stop thinking about pain and its amplification] and cognitive impairments. For this reason, the role of expectancy and anxiety in modulation of pain by placebo has a role in treating these patients," Andrea Power, a researcher at The University of Manchester, England, and the study's first author, said in a press release. Yet, the utility of the placebo effect in such cases relies on the assumption that people with chronic pain ex
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