Emerging Strategies for the Treatment of Neuropathic Pain. Edited by James N. Campbell, M.D., Allan I. Basaum, Ph.D., Andre Dray, Ph.D., Ronald Dubner, D.D.S., Robert H. Dworkin, Ph.D., and Christine N. Sang, M.D. Seattle, Washington, IASP Press, 2006. Pages: 514. Price: $80.00.

For those of us who practice pain medicine, it is undeniably challenging to treat patients with neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is a unique pain condition characterized by its dynamic nature and diversity of clinical presentation. Since the late 1980s, several animal models of peripheral nerve injury have been introduced, and the preclinical research field has witnessed an explosion of knowledge regarding the neural and molecular mechanisms of neuropathic pain. Despite the intense effort from both basic science and clinical pain research, the mechanisms of neuropathic pain remain largely unclear, and few new treatment options have been proven to be beneficial for the clinical management of neuropathic pain.

The overall challenge facing preclinical research and clinical management of neuropathic pain is the theme of this extremely informative book published by the IASP Press. The book is a fine product of a scientific meeting organized by the book editors. Each of these topics listed in the book, ranging from the neural/molecular and disease-specific targets of neuropathic pain interventions to pain measurement and new technologies, was debated and deliberated during the meeting. As a researcher and pain clinician who has been interested in neuropathic pain, I find this book to be highly refreshing, loaded with the most updated information from a list of who is who in the field of neuropathic pain research and clinical management.

A unique feature of this book is the inclusion of several rapporteur reports serving as the lead chapter for each section. Each rapporteur report contains the consensus from the meeting attendants on a particular research area as well as the discussion process that led to the consensus. These rapporteur reports, four of which are in this book, provide the readers with a rare opportunity to understand the thinking process of these experts who have devoted their effort to studying the mechanisms of neuropathic pain. The contents of these rapporteur reports are well balanced, carefully organized, and clearly presented. Particularly, research questions are raised within these rapporteur reports, which are aimed at guiding future research efforts in this field.

Over several years, there have been many talks regarding the lack of adequate progress in both preclinical and clinical research on neuropathic pain and its clinical management. This book provides a realistic look at the current status of neuropathic pain research and treatment as well as the challenges ahead of us. For this reason, I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in the research and/or clinical management of neuropathic pain.

Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. jmao@partners.org