Advanced Concepts and Controversies in Emergency Department Pain Management

Anesthesiol Clin. 2016 Jun;34(2):271-85. doi: 10.1016/j.anclin.2016.01.006.


Pain is the most common complaint for which patients come to the emergency department (ED). Emergency physicians are responsible for pain relief in a timely, efficient, and safe manner in the ED. The improvement in our understanding of the neurobiology of pain has balanced the utilization of nonopioid and opioid analgesia, and simultaneously has led to more rational and safer opioid prescribing practices. This article reviews advances in pain management in the ED for patients with acute and chronic pain as well as describes several newer strategies and controversies.

Keywords: Acute pain; Chronic pain; Emergency department; Nonopioid analgesics; Opioids; Pain management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use
  • Acute Pain / therapy
  • Analgesia, Patient-Controlled
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Pain / therapy
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Ketamine / therapeutic use
  • Pain Management*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Acetaminophen
  • Ketamine