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The real power of placebos

Published December 1, 2022

Science suggests that the placebo effect, in which a person derives a physical benefit from a fake treatment, can have real health benefits for managing pain. It may even work if people are aware that the treatment is a sham. The ritual of receiving treatment is essential for the placebo effect to work, and it’s possible for people to tap into its benefits by adopting healthy habits that require rituals and procedures like healthy eating, exercise, and meditation.

Breakthrough in brain stimulation offers cautious hope for depression

Published October 19, 2022

Transcranial magnetic stimulation helps some people with treatment-resistant depression, but the process takes multiple weeks and gets results in only about a third of those who try it. A new approach to delivering this therapy showed promise in a small study.

New thinking on glaucoma treatment

Published October 1, 2022

Some people with newly diagnosed mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma have another option for first-line treatment. Instead of using prescription eye drops initially, they can have a laser procedure called selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT). SLT uses light pulses to help clean up debris clogging the eye’s natural drains. Clogged drains lead to elevated eye pressure that damages the optic nerve. SLT's effects wane after three to five years, at which point it may be necessary to have the procedure again, or to begin using eye drops to treat glaucoma.

Prostate cancer: Radiation therapy elevates risk for future cancers

Published September 9, 2022

A standard treatment for localized prostate cancer is radiation, but there is a risk that it can lead to secondary cancers forming in the body later. Now, a large study of men treated with current radiation delivery methods clarifies that the amount of risk is low, but real.

Ketamine for treatment-resistant depression: When and where is it safe?

Published August 9, 2022

Ketamine has been used for decades as an anesthetic, and in 2019 an inhaled version of it was approved by the FDA for treatment-resistant depression. But it is generally prescribed only when other treatments have not been effective.

When walking is the best medicine

Published August 1, 2022

Supervised exercise therapy (SET) for peripheral artery disease (PAD) requires pushing through pain while walking to improve blood flow through narrowed blood vessels in the legs. SET can work as effectively as surgical procedures to improve the calf pain and cramping of PAD. SET is a treadmill-based program overseen by clinicians at a health care facility. Home-based SET can work comparably at improving symptoms, but only if PAD patients walk at a faster pace and continue the regimen long-term.

Melasma: What are the best treatments?

Published July 11, 2022

Melasma is a skin condition affecting mostly women with darker skin. It cannot be fully prevented in those most likely to develop it, and there is no cure, but consistent sunscreen use is critical, and numerous treatment options are available.

Can an implanted tongue-stimulating device curb your sleep apnea?

Published July 7, 2022

A mask-free, implanted device for sleep apnea that works by stimulating the tongue was approved by the FDA in 2014 as a second-choice treatment for people who are unable to tolerate a positive airway pressure machine.

Adult female acne: Why it happens and the emotional toll

Published June 27, 2022

Women are more likely to get acne after age 20 than men. Unfortunately, treatment options that worked in the teenage years may not work as well in adult females. The emotional toll of acne may include a higher risk of developing depression, and having severe acne can negatively affect quality of life.

Back pain: Will treatment for the mind, body—or both—help?

Published June 16, 2022

Low back pain is a leading cause of disability worldwide. A recent review of dozens of studies suggests that combining physical therapy with psychological approaches to treating pain led to better overall results in improvement of pain.

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