Publication Date

April 2019


Paul Erickson, William Johnston


Science in Society, History


English (United States)


Chronic pain and its treatment is currently thought about in relation to the opioid crisis. The coincidence of the rise of the pain management specialty with the introduction of the branded opioid Oxycontin in the late 1990’s created the opportunity for many chronic pain sufferers to obtain some pain relief, but also initiated the beginnings of the over-reliance on opioids as a treatment modality. I aim to explore why the pain management specialty and associated professional organizations began and how the creation of this new specialty affected the medical, political, economic and social environment in the United States from 1970 to 2010. The field of pain management underwent a renaissance in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, building from the foundation of pain management organizations in the 1970’s and early 1980’s to national campaigns focused on improving pain treatments. These organizations, like the International Association for the Study of Pain, American Academy of Pain Management, American Academy of Pain Medicine and American Pain Society, were the drivers of this change. By successfully influencing Health and Human Services guidelines, the VA Pain Management National Strategy, and the Joint Commission Standards, these organizations changed how physicians across the country thought about and treated pain conditions. These organizations had a major impact in the political sphere in addition to the medical guidelines and standards.



© Copyright is owned by author of this document