In 1973, encouraged by the response to the gate control theory, John Bonica (shown here at another conference in 1972) organized a highly productive scientific meeting of some 300 pain researchers in Issaquah, (Seattle) Washington, where he won their unanimous endorsement of a new International Association for the Study of Pain based on the concept of interdisciplinary collaboration.
William K. Livingston, too, had been inspired by his wartime experiences in pain management with a multidisciplinary team, which he described as "one of the most exciting and profitable periods of my life." He also saw the collaboration of laboratory and clinic as the most likely approach to lead to more effective management of chronic pain and, in 1947, began his "Pain Project" at the University of Oregon, where he had been appointed Chair of Surgery:
"I let it be known. . . that I wanted to organize a 'Pain Project' in which a team of investigators would undertake a simultaneous study of the physiological and psychological aspects of pain in our clinics and research laboratories. The response was enthusiastic and the team was soon organized by members drawn from both basic science and clinical departments." (From: Pain and Suffering, W.K. Livingston's unpublished manuscript)
The Chinese practice of acupuncture is based on ancient practice, but modern techniques may owe a debt to Western anatomy. Following President Richard Nixon's visit to the People's Republic in 1972, many U.S. practitioners and clinics began experimenting with acupuncture for the relief of chronic pain.
Pain Therapy Today
Since 1973, the multidisciplinary pain clinic has come into its own. Many clinics now offer a variety of therapeutic approaches to effective pain management, including physical therapy, acupuncture, TENS (transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation), hypnosis, and behavioral modification based on the methods pioneered by Bonica's colleague, Wilbert Fordyce. However, not all patients have access to good pain clinics and, in the US, many pain therapies are not covered by insurance.
Richard Sternbach, of the Pain Treatment Center at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla, offered 7 steps on how to live despite pain in his 1977 pamphlet (How Can I Learn to Live With Pain When It Hurts So Much?, revised in 1983):
Taxonomy of Pain Terms
One of John Bonica's first goals for the International Association for the Study of Pain was to develop a taxonomy of pain terminology and definitions--a common language for the different disciplines. Harold Mersky chaired the IASP task force that created the first Taxonomy in 1979. He continued to revise and update the definitions with the input of Marshall Devor, Nikolai Broduk, and others. The most recent version of Pain Terms appeared in 1994.