The Evolution of Pain Medicine: A Historical Overview

As any Pain Specialist will tell you: “Pain theories & the management of pain, have been modified throughout history. It grew from magico-religious & demonic ideas & procedures, to more empiric-scientific models; from ancient times & primitive cultures to the 20th century. In the 19th & 20th century, new anatomical, physiological & biochemical insights lead to the development of modern analgesics & new invasive procedures” [1]

Did You Know?

As we approach the mid-2020s, older traditional attitudes and beliefs have not been entirely replaced; in fact, they are still prevalent to some degree in modern-day patients [1].

Highlights From the History of Pain Medicine

During the 17th century, opium was frequently handed out by European doctors, for the purpose of relieving their patients’ pain. Time then marched on to the 19th century, when chloroform and ether were used to anaesthetise patients who underwent surgery. Then, by the time the 1900s arrived, heroine and morphine were being employed as pain medication [2].

Establishing pain as a medical field of its own, got underway in the 1960s. And a decade later, this field had a dedicated association (the International Association for the Study of Pain); and a research journal (Pain). Moreover, the construct of Interdisciplinary Pain Teams was also introduced [2]. And this is why Pain Specialists work with a team of doctors and therapists who are qualified in other associated fields. – Hence the multi-discipline treatment protocols provided by Pain Doctors.

“Pain is a constant companion for humanity,” said Marcia Meldrum, an associate researcher in the department of psychiatry & bio-behavioral sciences at the University of California” [2], & this is why Pain Doctors play such a crucial role in both helping to ameliorate patients’ conditions, & advancing the field of Pain Medicine

Modern Day Pain Practices

Modern day pain practices such as those provided by Pain Doctors, incorporate a broad range of different procedures. These run from prescription medication (for example, anti-inflammatories), to injectables (such as steroid injections or pain blocks), to stimulations (e.g. TENS), to physical therapies (for instance, physiotherapy). Generally speaking, when you book an appointment with a Pain Consultant, in order to attain an accurate pain diagnosis, they will review your medical history, ask you pertinent questions, and undertake any necessary tests and scans. After this, they will compile a Holistic Personalised Treatment Plan. This is likely to include a combination of both conventional and the latest cutting-edge treatments.


[1]. Sabatowski R, Schäfer D, Kasper SM, Brunsch H, Radbruch L. Pain treatment: a historical overview. Curr Pharm Des. 2004;10 (7):701-16.

[2]. Collier R. A short history of pain management. CMAJ. 2018 Jan 8;190(1):E26-E27.