A placebo effect is the belief that the benefit one gets from a
particular treatment is merely psychological in nature, and not
actually “real.” Unfortunately there are many people that discount
the success of chiropractic treatments as merely that, a placebo
effect. This is a pretty naive opinion when you consider the millions
of patients that utilize chiropractic everyday. In fact today there exist
study after study that have proven that chiropractic is effective and
far beyond just a placebo effect. There are numerous double blind
research studies that totally invalidate this myth. Despite continued
research efforts by health experts to unravel more about
chiropractic care, there are still many who fail to understand
aspects of this treatment method. Lack of information automatically
results in the formation of myths and misconceptions. Let’s face it;
we often mock what we do not understand.
That being said, we can not discount the element of placebo in health care delivery as a whole. The placebo
effect is related to the act of giving comforting and supportive care. The reassuring presence of the country doctor
years ago probably had more effect than the few medications that were available. Medical schools are now trying
to recapture that personal relationship between doctor and patient that aids the healing process. A number of
elements contribute to this popular contentment, including physician-patient interaction.
Chiropractic treatment often requires several encounters involving physical contact and direct physician attention
over a focused time interval. These factors can be responsible for creating a mental state in the patient that may
allow for enhanced clinical benefits and quicker recovery time. Physician attention, in any form, appears to benefit
patients with back pain, but attributing patient response and satisfaction from health care encounters with spinal
manipulation to placebo alone is unjustifiable based on the scientific clinical data. Instead of standing up and
pronouncing judgment or mastery and ownership of something in the name of science, in my opinion, we should
stand in humbleness and respect of the awesomeness the power of the mind has to contribute to the positive
results of any treatment; be it medical or chiropractic.
You can call it a placebo effect; you can call it a chicken soup effect; you can call it the mothers kiss effect. It's all
about creating the right mental state in the person. We know that positive emotions increase creativity, our
immune responses, and can even elevate the IQ. Most of us have learned that the principles of meditation and
creative visualization work, even if we don't practice them. Whatever we pay attention to is what we become.
The conscious mind by bringing into it a series of positive thoughts such as faith that a treatment will work,
unquestionably creates an atmosphere where good results can occur. Interestingly, the opposite is also true,
negative thoughts can create an environment where poor results are more likely. This dangerous negative
aspect is known as the nocebo effect. Consider just how important your thoughts are in bringing about
expectations or dreams for good things in your life. That’s why negative attitudes can destroy a person’s life
relationships, and career and develop into a self fulfilling prophecy of failure.
A perfect example of this amazing mind body connection and the placebo effect is an interesting human study
where patients with severe arthritis of the knee underwent an arthroscopic surgery to clean out the damaged
cartilage and debris in the joint. The surgery patients experienced a 70% improvement in function. The research
study control group received sham surgery, in which a small skin incision was made but the joint was never
entered. The patients that received the fake placebo surgery also gained a 70% improvement. After the study,
doctors informed the “fake” surgery patients that the surgeon had not actually done anything to their knees. Most
of patients didn’t care; in fact, the majority said “My knee feels so good that I would like you to do the same fake
surgery on my other knee"!
In summary, critics like to claim that chiropractic results are due to the placebo effect alone. These critics have
simply chosen to overlook proof to the contrary. The placebo effect is simply the power of suggestion, which is
important in any form of healing, but by no means, how chiropractic works. That would actually be quite amazing!
Our aim is to bring relief and promote well being, and within broad limits, whatever promotes those aims should
be seen in a positive light. In another culture the interpersonal component of healing and health promotion might
be put on a pedestal rather than demeaned as “only a placebo effect.".
A FACT IS A FACT!
The more you believe you're going to benefit from a treatment, the more likely it is that you will experience a
benefit. The power of the mind!