How the Placebo Effect Can Help You

Our beliefs have a greater effect on our lives than we realize. From the popularity of morning “I am” affirmations to the increasing sales of self-help books, we are learning just how powerful our thoughts really are.

oakland chronic pain treatment

We’re also learning that creating a change from our beliefs can go further than looking in the mirror and telling yourself how great you are that day...

Through the use of our minds and our beliefs, we have the power to impact our physical and mental health in a positive and healing way.

I understand that this can sound a bit fishy or too mainstream for some of you, so let’s take a look at some research that has been done in the medical world.

Placebo Effect in Surgery

When other medical treatments fail to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis in the knee, often times arthroscopic lavage or debridement will be recommended by doctors. However, there is no clear evidence that the surgeries actually cure osteoarthritis, yet patients still report relief of pain and negative symptoms afterward.

This of course sparked an interest in the minds of medical field researchers.

They wanted to test the pain and functioning outcomes of arthroscopic lavage or debridement surgeries when compared to a placebo procedure to see how beliefs can affect results (aka the placebo effect).

What researchers did was take 180 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee and randomly assigned them into three separate groups. One group received arthroscopic lavage, the other received arthroscopic debridement, and the last group received a placebo surgery. The placebo group underwent a simulated surgery, including prepping, small incisions in the knee, splashing saline solution, and manipulating the knee as if arthroscopic surgery was performed.

The patients and the outcome assessors were not told what group anyone had been placed in (in statistical terms this means they were blinded). All blinding does is help to ensure that no one skews the results through personal biases, expectations, etc.