Placebo analgesia: Clinical considerations

Lai Ying Gladys Cheing, Kenny S.H. Cheung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Pain is the predominant symptom that prompts patients to seek medical advice and treatment from physiotherapists. Various treatment modalities such as heat and cold, electrical stimulation (Cheing and Hui-Chan, 1999), ultrasound, manipulative techniques, massage and laser treatment have been demonstrated in varying degrees to be clinically effective for managing pain of different pathologies. However, all these From a research design perspective, the presence of placebo response is undesirable and must be controlled as it complicates the demonstration of 'real' treatment effect. From a clinical perspective, it is intriguing to note that the condition of patients in the placebo control groups did improve considerably in many of these validation studies, although in the majority the improvement was not so marked as in the treatment groups. Conspicuously, some neuro-physiological and psychological aspects of the placebo effects may have clinical use in enhancing the effect of pain treatments and their outcomes. Unfortunately, although placebo response has been a subject of continuing interest among some physiotherapy researchers and clinicians, information about placebo analgesia and its clinical utility is seldom discussed. The purpose of this paper is to provide clinicians with an overview of the construct and research related to placebo analgesia as well as a discussion of the potential clinical use of certain components of placebo analgesia to enhance pain rehabilitation outcomes in physiotherapy practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-743
Number of pages9
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2002


  • Analgesia
  • Pain
  • Placebo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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