Deep visceral pain is frequent and presents major challenges in pain management, since its pathophysiology is still poorly understood. One way to optimize treatment of visceral pain is to improve knowledge of the mechanisms behind the pain and the mode of action of analgesic substances. This can be achieved through standardized experimental human pain models. Experimental pain models in healthy volunteers are advantageous for evaluation of analgesic action, as this is often difficult to assess in the clinic because of confounding factors such as sedation, nausea and general malaise. These pain models facilitate minimizing the gap between knowledge gained in animal and human clinical studies. Combining experimental pain studies and pharmacokinetic studies can improve understanding of the pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic relationship of analgesics and, thus, provide valuable insight into optimal clinical treatment of visceral pain. To improve treatment of visceral pain, it is important to study the underlying mechanisms of pain and the action of analgesics used for its treatment. An experimental pain model activates different modalities and can be used to investigate the mechanism of action of different analgesics in detail. In combination with pharmacokinetic studies and objective assessment such as electroencephalography, new information regarding a given drug substance and its effects can be obtained. Results from experimental human visceral pain research can bridge the gap in knowledge between animal studies and clinical condition in patients suffering from visceral pain, and thus constitute the missing link in translational pain research.
Keywords: Analgesics; Analgesics, Opioid; Animals; Antidepressive Agents; Disease Models, Animal; Humans; Models, Biological; Pain; Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate