Nocebo-induced hyperalgesia during local anesthetic injection.

Department of Anesthesiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, MA 02115, USA.
Anesthesia and analgesia (Impact Factor: 3.08). 03/2010; 110(3):868-70. DOI: 10.1213/ANE.0b013e3181cc5727
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Common practice during local anesthetic injection is to warn the patient using words such as: "You will feel a big bee sting; this is the worst part." Our hypothesis was that using gentler words for administration of the local anesthetic improves pain perception and patient comfort. One hundred forty healthy women at term gestation requesting neuraxial analgesia were randomized to either a "placebo" ("We are going to give you a local anesthetic that will numb the area and you will be comfortable during the procedure") or "nocebo" ("You are going to feel a big bee sting; this is the worst part of the procedure") group. Pain was assessed immediately after the local anesthetic skin injection using verbal analog scale scores of 0 to 10. Median verbal analog scale pain scores were lower when reassuring words were used compared with the harsher nocebo words (3 [2-4] vs 5 [3-6]; P < 0.001). Our data suggest that using gentler, more reassuring words improves the subjective experience during invasive procedures.

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