Looking Back, Moving Forward in Pain Medicine


Pain is an ancient medical complaint and a clinical riddle that has never been entirely solved. Looking back into history was the springboard to a look into the future of pain medicine. This article was based on a series of presentations given in a recent congress (May 2023) and represents the research, views, and opinions of the authors.

Opium has been used for millennia to treat pain, but when it gained broad use in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s, it was so vastly overprescribed and mis-prescribed that it led to a public health crisis. This, in turn, led to the reaction where opioids at times were under-prescribed, leaving out many patients who may have benefited from opioids while leaving many legacy pain patients to manage withdrawal on their own and with few analgesic options. Cannabinoids (CB) were likewise widely used for various conditions, including pain, but were outlawed in the 20th century, only to be brought back as a potential analgesic agent. Interventional pain medicine is a developing discipline and has reinforced the concept of the interdisciplinary pain clinic. It plays an increasingly important part in modern medicine overall, especially with the support of ultrasound, for both diagnosis and therapy. Today, the views about pain have changed. Anyone has accepted that pain is not purely a physical phenomenon but a biopsychosocial phenomenon that occurs within a cultural context.

Pain management remains a small but vitally important medical subspecialty that is critical from a functional enablement and population health perspective, which is helping to navigate new therapeutic targets, new drugs and routes of administration, greater understanding of pain psychology, and new technologies.

Pain control today means early intervention, functional enablement through pain alleviation, educating patients about pain management, and minimizing the transition from acute to chronic pain.

Paladini A, Gharibo C, Khalbous S, et al. (September 05, 2023) Looking Back, Moving Forward in Pain Medicine. Cureus 15(9): e44716. doi:10.7759/cureus.44716

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