In 1932, the German medical missionary Dr. Alberta Schwietzer wrote, "Pain is a
more awful lord of mankind than even death itself." Nowadays, pain has become the
worldwide disorder, a serious and costly public health issue, and a challenge for family,
friends, and health care providers who must give support to the persons suffering from
the physical as well as the emotional consequences of pain (1).
Early mankind linked pain to immorality. Relief of pain was the responsibility of
sorcerers, shamans, priests, and priestesses, who used herbs, rites, and ceremonies as their
treatments. The Greeks and Romans were the first to advance a theory of sensation, the
idea that the brain and nervous system have a role in producing the perception of pain.
But it was not until the middle ages and well into the Renaissance the 1400s and 1500s-
that evidence began to accumulate in support of these theories. Leonardo da Vinci and
his contemporaries came to believe that the brain was the central organ responsible for
sensation. Da Vinci also developed the idea that the spinal cord transmits sensations to
the brain. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the study of the body and the senses continued
to be a source of wonder for the world's philosophers. In 1664, the French philosopher
René Descartes described what to this day is still called a "pain pathway" (5).
What is impressing is how far medical research has come in the quest to conquer
pain and interfere with the 'pain pathway'. "The philosophy that you have to learn to live
with pain is one that I will never understand or advocate," says Dr. W. David Leak,
Chairman & CEO of Pain Net, Inc. (4). The focus of this paper has been on the numerous
avenues explored by researchers and two methods of treatment that offer promising
What is pain? The International Association for the Study of Pain defines it as: An
unpleasant sensory and...