In the Science Times section of the October of 1998 New York Times come an article that also discusses the effect placebos have on healing. The article discusses the ability of someone's belief in healing to cause healing. According to the article scientists are now starting to understand some of the brain functions that may explain some of the results gotten from placebo treatments. Many drugs that are eventually shown to be ineffective can attribute their original success to the placebo effect.
The Times article goes on to talk about a study in Texas where a group of patients with similar knee problems underwent three types of surgical care. One group had their knee joints scraped, one group had the knee joint washed, and one group had incisions made to look like the other procedures but nothing else was done. Amazingly two years later, the group that got nothing (but believed they had surgery) had the same pain relief as did those who actually had surgery.
From a chiropractic standpoint, the placebo effect can be simply explained. Placebos only work because people believe they are getting some form of real care, so they heal themselves. Fundamental to chiropractic is the premise that the body heals itself. Chiropractors depend on this self-healing ability for the results we see. For over 100 years chiropractors have understood that the body heals itself. We believe that what a doctor should do is remove any interference to that healing ability. In chiropractic, we recognize that the most common form of interference to the body's ability to heal itself is a spinal subluxation.
A subluxation is when one or more of the bones of your spine (vertebrae) move out of position and put pressure on or irritate spinal nerves. Spinal nerves are the nerves that come out from between each of the bones in your spine. This pressure or irritation on the nerves then causes those nerves to malfunction and interfere with the signals traveling over those nerves. The result of subluxation is a decrease in the body's ability to function properly and heal itself. By correcting subluxations, chiropractors allow the body's healing ability to function at a higher level and healing is the natural result.