If you really believe that a therapy will relieve your pain you may significantly improve the chances that it will. That is the basic finding of a research project just completed.
Research by the Human Pain Research Group at The University of Manchester suggests that people’s responses to placebo or “dummy” pain relief varies according to their way of thinking.
Lead researcher Alison Watson said: “Any medical treatment involves a placebo element; the psychological suggestion that it is going to work. So we theorised that a proportion of any treatment’s effectiveness would relate to how much we wanted it to work, believed in it or trusted the person administering it.
“Our findings suggest that different individuals may have different styles of placebo response, which is likely to affect how they respond to real treatments too. Understanding these differences could better inform the way doctors and nurses provide treatments in the future.
“It could also facilitate more effective clinical trial design, which could substantially reduce the costs of developing new pain killers for patients with conditions like cancer and arthritis.
“A further, exciting possibility is that we could develop talking and drug-based therapies to enhance people’s response to placebos. The experimental methods we’re using will allow us to test out such possibilities as a method of treating pain.”
In Florida, where the search for the fountain of youth has never been abandoned, some of us may be psychologically ready for a new pain pill of just the right shape and color prescribed by a Marcus Welby look alike expressing absolute confidence we will soon be pain free. I would give it a try.