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What is the History and Present Day Theories of Pain Management

The purpose pain serves is to alert the body to damaging stimuli such as an inflammatory process or reaction or tissue damage. The International Association for the Study of Pain, defines pain as “an emotionally charged and physically unpleasant experience associated with actual or potential existence of tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.”

If you live with chronic pain either due to illness, injury or other factors, you understand the detrimental effects of pain and appreciate the study of pain management. After all, successful pain management can make the difference between a daily struggle to live and having a normal existence. The history of pain management has evolved from crude and even dangerous methods to the modern pain management used today.

History of pain management:
Pain management and the study of pain has been around since before the age of Hippocrates. Furthermore, drugs have played a large part of pain management throughout history. For example, Opium was used to treat pain after 1680 and was then used in combination with Sherry after 1680. After 1830, Chloroform was used.

The side effects of these extremely strong drugs are well-known. Individuals who suffered with chronic pain during this time were faced with the choice of dealing with their pain or using these harsh drugs to treat their problem. The drugs themselves proved so problematic though that many individuals did not want to use them as it was virtually impossible for them to function with the drugs in their system.

Other pain management practices throughout history:
During the Civil War era, physicians had no idea how to properly help individuals manage their pain and would often recommend amputations. This of course didn’t work well and often led to even more problems. Infections were prevalent, and even if the operation went well, the patient still dealt with pain even after the amputation.

Modern pain management:
Pain management has evolved greatly from the early days when amputation and overly harsh drug use was the typical treatment for chronic pain. Today, there are pain specialists who are doctors that focus solely on helping individuals manage their chronic pain. These pain specialists work together with other physicians neurosurgeons and primary care physicians to create an individualized pain management plan for their patients.

Some afflictions are best treated using surgical measures. However, many times, more conservative procedures that enable individuals to manage their pain such as nerve blockers, injections or neuromodulation techniques are implemented. Furthermore, modern drugs are more beneficial to chronic sufferers than in years past thanks to the fact that they are designed to ensure patients are still able to function while using them.

The methods of pain management are too numerous to list, and only skilled pain management specialists can correctly access what treatment options are best for each individual’s situation. Therefore, if you have chronic pain, finding a pain management specialists who can personalize your treatment plan is crucial to finding relief from your chronic pain.


This blog is written for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for actual medical treatment. Please contact the APM Augusta office to schedule an appointment if you are in need of medical care.

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