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Airing Pain 79: Side Effects, Placebos and a Brief History of Nerve Pain

Mak­ing sense of side effects, the pow­er of place­bo, and the improv­ing treat­ment of neu­ro­path­ic pain

This edi­tion has been fund­ed by friends and sup­port­ers of Pain Concern.

Tens of thou­sands of sol­diers in the First World War sur­vived with limb ampu­ta­tions, but doc­tors and wider soci­ety were unpre­pared for and often unsym­pa­thet­ic to the long term pain they expe­ri­enced. Pro­fes­sor Andrew Rice brings us up to date with devel­op­ments since then in treat­ing pain caused by nerve dam­age and explains what makes neu­ro­path­ic pain dif­fer­ent from every­day pain.

Although the drugs used to treat neu­ro­path­ic pain may have improved, side effects are still a major prob­lem for many. Researcher Sheena Der­ry dis­cuss­es how we can bal­ance out the risks and benefits.

Under­stand­ing the harm caused by a drug can be chal­leng­ing because even research study par­tic­i­pants giv­en sug­ar pills rather than real drugs may expe­ri­ence adverse effects. Psy­chol­o­gist Lena Vase explains that the lat­est research on the place­bo effect shows that it’s always worth a doctor’s time to lis­ten sym­pa­thet­i­cal­ly to a patient.

Issues cov­ered in this pro­gramme include: Med­ica­tion, neu­ro­path­ic pain, side effects, place­bos, med­ical his­to­ry, med­ical research, comor­bidi­ties, psy­chol­o­gy, ampu­ta­tion and veterans.


  • Andrew Rice, Pro­fes­sor of Pain Research, Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege London
  • Sheena Der­ry, Senior Sci­en­tif­ic Offi­cer, Pain Research Unit, Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford
  • Lena Vase, Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chol­o­gy, Aarhus University
  • Michael Clough, army veteran.


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