Do we need preemptive analgesia for the treatment of postoperative pain?

Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol. 2007 Mar;21(1):51-63. doi: 10.1016/j.bpa.2006.11.004.


Preemptive analgesia means that an analgesic intervention is started before the noxious stimulus arises in order to block peripheral and central nociception. This afferent blockade of nociceptive impulses is maintained throughout the intra-operative and post-operative period. The goals of preemptive analgesia are, first, to decrease acute pain after tissue injury, second, to prevent pain-related pathologic modulation of the central nervous system, and third, to inhibit the persistence of postoperative pain and the development of chronic pain. So far, the promising results from animal models have not been translated into clinical practice. Therefore, clinicians should rely on conventional anaesthetic and analgesic methods with proven efficacy, i.e. a multimodal approach including the combination of strong opioids, non-opioid analgesics, and peripheral or neuraxial local anaesthetics that act at different sites of the pain pathways.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*
  • Pain, Postoperative / physiopathology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate