Someday doctors may prescribe sugar pills for certain chronic pain patients based on their brain anatomy and psychology. And the pills will reduce their pain as effectively as any powerful drug on the market, according to new research.
Northwestern Medicine scientists have shown they can reliably predict which chronic pain patients will respond to a sugar placebo pill based on the patients’ brain anatomy and psychological characteristics.
“Their brain is already tuned to respond,” said senior study author A. Vania Apkarian, professor of physiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “They have the appropriate psychology and biology that puts them in a cognitive state that as soon as you say, ‘this may make your pain better,’ their pain gets better.”