The Power of a Positive Attitude

Published Online: Thursday, August 1, 2002

In a recent study that raised serious doubts about the effectiveness of arthroscopic knee surgery, researchers found that patients who had a ?placebo operation? felt just as good afterward as those who had the real operation. These results indicate that the mind plays a powerful role in the perception of pain.

A related finding was reported from a study conducted by the University Health Network in Toronto, Canada (Journal of Rheumatology, June 2002). Arthritis patients who were optimistic that an upcoming hip or knee replacement operation was going to reduce or eliminate their pain were more likely to get more relief than patients with low expectations about the effects of the surgery. Nearly 75% of the patients who indicated on a preoper-ative questionnaire that they expected complete relief of pain from hip or knee surgery also reported less pain and better functioning 6 months after the surgery than those patients who had lower preoperative expectations.

?If you come in with a positive attitude, you?re more likely to have a better outcome,? said orthopedic surgeon Nizar Mahomed, MD, ScD.The power of the mind comes into play once again. However, Dr Mahomed adds that ?Patients who have higher expectations of getting better are putting more effort into recovery [and rehabilitation after surgery].?

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