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Chiropr Man Therap. 2014 Feb 3;22(1):6. doi: 10.1186/2045-709X-22-6.

Research on placebo analgesia is relevant to clinical practice.

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Rehabilitation Science Doctoral Student, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA.


Over the decades, research into placebo responses has shed light onto several endogenous (i.e. produced from within) mechanisms underlying modulation of pain perception initiated after the administration of inert substances (i.e. placebos). Chiropractors and manual therapists should embrace analgesic-placebo-research in an attempt to maximize clinical benefit. Historical views that placebo responses are fake, passive, undesirable, and require deception and therefore should be minimized and avoided in clinical practice are outdated. Further, statements that contend the placebo response represents a single mechanism are overly simplistic. This commentary will discuss research that shows that there are several active biological processes underlying modulation of pain perception involved in placebo analgesia and its counterpart nocebo hyperalgesia. We contend that it is highly likely that, to some extent, all of these biological processes are engaged, in varying degrees, following all interventions and represent endogenous pain modulating processes. Failure, of chiropractors and manual therapists, to embrace a more contemporary view of analgesic-placebo-research serves as a barrier to transferring knowledge into clinical practice and represents a missed opportunity to improve the delivery of current treatments.

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