Nocebo is a Latin word that means “I will harm”. This psychoemotional effect is 100% real and has also been demonstrated in thousands of research studies. Nocebo is the opposite of placebo. Instead of causing a positive result, it creates a negative or harmful one.
A famous study showed that people are likely to get sick if they feel they have been exposed to a harmful chemical or infectious agent. Of course, there was no such contamination and the sickness was produced entirely through psychological suggestion.
Nocebo is yet another piece of evidence demonstrating the inherent link between the emotional mind and the physical body. In order for this mindbody phenomenon to work, the mind must be able to produce negative consequences in the body.
This occurrence basically destroys the antiquated Cartesian model of pain which has been so warmly embraced by medical science for generations.
One of the most powerful negative effects in the field of back pain therapy is a serious diagnosis from a care provider. The words herniated disc or degenerative disc disease do not have any inherently harmful powers of their own. However, the vision that they create in the mind of the patient is devastating.
The diagnosed patient views themselves as permanently damaged and in serious need of drastic treatment. It is no surprise that a patient's pain gets much, much worse after receiving an MRI-confirmed result of a fright-inspiring diagnosis.
Nocebo is one of the reasons for the modern back pain epidemic.
I clearly remember the diagnosis pronounced by my first chiropractor:
"Curvature of the spine and muscle imbalance, requiring ongoing treatment."
One of my orthopedic surgeons diagnosed:
"1 herniated disc, 1 ruptured disc and severe degenerative disc disease at 3 levels. You will be in treatment for a long time, maybe forever."
Another doctor warned:
"You are in need of surgical correction or you will become disabled."
Of course my back pain got worse and worse with every negative diagnosis. If these are not examples of purposeful negative psychological warfare, then I don't know what is. None of these scenarios actually did anything to exacerbate the structural issues in my body, they merely forced my mind to fear them more and more. This fear permeates into the body and creates increased symptoms.
Luckily, it is possible to negate this negative pattern of programming using completely logical and factual information about the true nature of most chronic pain issues.
We have all heard the horror stories of chronic back ache due to various structural diagnoses. These tales alone are a nocebo unto themselves, since they condition us to think of the spine as a fragile and easily damaged structure often capable of crippling us. This is far from anatomical reality, but is a prime source of symptomatic escalation when we, ourselves, are diagnosed with the very conditions which we have come to fear.
The mind is involved in every aspect of the physical body and controls the pain and healing sensations we experience to a huge degree. This psychological effect of a frightening diagnosis is a prime cause and perpetuator of psychosomatic back pain.
Learn the facts about what is actually causing your pain and do not become intimidated or fearful of your future. Worry is a always a condition that intensifies pain.
Back pain can cause a patient physical stress, but the psychological nocebo effect can keep that pain going long after the physical body has healed.