Dr. John J. Bonica, an anesthesiologist, was a forerunner and leader in the effort to understand, address and treat pain.
A founder and former director of the Multidisciplinary Pain Center at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, he wrote numerous articles and books on pain including his landmark and comprehensive “The Management of Pain,” published in 1953 (later rewritten and republished in 1990). It remains in use to this day by students and doctors around the world.
he moved to the United Sates at age 10. An amateur wrestling champion in High School, he turned professional to finance his University studies at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in New York, wrestling at carnivals in the summer and winning several more titles.
After his internship and residency in New York, he was inducted into the Army and was sent to Fort Lewis, Wash., where he became chief of anesthesiology at Madigan Army Hospital at age 27. While there he advanced the techniques of regional blocks as a novel form of anesthesia. His pain relief methods and informed, genuine concern for their pain management helped the thousands of wounded combat soldiers under his care.
After the war, he married and practiced medicine in the Pacific Northwest. Continuing to focus on pain and pain management, Dr. Bonica became a professor and later chairman emeritus of the Department of Anesthesiology, University of Washington School of Medicine.
When his wife almost died due to complications during delivery, he worked to devise a continuous epidural analgesia that affects the nerves leading to the chest and lower half of the body, numbing pain, what is now commonly termed an epidural block, utilized routinely today for labor and delivery. This technique is now used for any number of purposes and pioneered the way for many modern anesthesia treatments of back pain.
For more information on Dr. John J. Bonica check out Latif Nasser, a young writer and researcher whose mother became sick with Rheumatoid Arthritis. He researched pain in order to help her and created this bemusing You-Tube short.