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Pain Research and Management
Volume 16, Issue 6, Pages 416-420
Narrative Review

Unrelieved Pain: A Crisis

Barry J Sessle

Faculties of Dentistry and Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. 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.


Despite many recent advances in the past 40 years in the understanding of pain mechanisms, and in pain diagnosis and management, considerable gaps in knowledge remain, with chronic pain present in epidemic proportions in most countries. It is often unrelieved and is associated with significant socioeconomic burdens. Several opportunities and approaches to address this crisis are identified in the present article. Most crucial is the need to increase pain awareness, enhance pain education, improve access to pain care and increase pain research resources. Given the variability among countries in health care policies and programs, resources and educational programs, many of the approaches and strategies outlined will need to be tailored to each country’s socioeconomic and educational situation.