Pain management in current combat operations

Ian H. Black, John McManus

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Pain management in the U.S. Military, particularly in combat, shares many of the same principles found in civilian heath care organizations andinstitutions. Pain is one of the most common reasons for which soldiers seek medical attention in the combat environment, which mirrors the civilian experience. However, the combat environment exacerbates the typical challenges found in treating acute pain andhas the additional obstacles of a lack of supplies andequipment, delayed or prolonged evacuation times anddistances, devastating injuries, provider inexperience, anddangerous tactical situations. These factors contribute to the difficulty in controlling a soldier's pain in combat. Furthermore, civilian health care providers have also learned the importance of practicing pain management principles in austere andtactical environments because of recent natural andman-made domestic disasters. Pain management research, education, andtreatment strategies have been created to try to achieve adequate battlefield analgesia, andthese lessons learned may aid civilian health care providers if the circumstances arise. This article presents a brief history andcurrent overview of pain management for combat casualties on today's battlefield. Recent natural disasters andincreased threats for terrorist acts have proven the need for civilian health care providers to be properly trained in pain management principles in an austere or tactical environment

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-227
Number of pages5
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Battlefield
  • Combat
  • Pain
  • Pain management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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