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ISRN Emergency Medicine
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 583132, 19 pages
Review Article

Management of Pain in the Emergency Department

Kaiser Foundation, University of Oklahoma, Department of Emergency Medicine, 4501 East, 41st Street, Suite 2E14, Tulsa, OK 74135, USA

Received 3 April 2013; Accepted 23 April 2013

Academic Editors: O. Karcioglu, L. M. Lewis, and R. Pitetti

Copyright © 2013 Stephen H. Thomas. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Since pain is a primary impetus for patient presentation to the Emergency Department (ED), its treatment should be a priority for acute care providers. Historically, the ED has been marked by shortcomings in both the evaluation and amelioration of pain. Over the past decade, improvements in the science of pain assessment and management have combined to facilitate care improvements in the ED. The purpose of this review is to address selected topics within the realm of ED pain management. Commencing with general principles and definitions, the review continues with an assessment of areas of controversy and advancing knowledge in acute pain care. Some barriers to optimal pain care are discussed, and potential mechanisms to overcome these barriers are offered. While the review is not intended as a resource for specific pain conditions or drug information, selected agents and approaches are mentioned with respect to evolving evidence and areas for future research.