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The study and treatment of clinical pain has historically identified particular pain syndromes and linked their etiology with disease factors. Missing in this approach is consideration of the mechanisms accounting for the pain that is experienced by the patient. The recent increase in our understanding of how peripheral and central mechanisms contribute to the perception of pain, including the identified role of prostaglandins, has led to a shift in treatment strategy to directly target these mechanisms. This article provides a brief overview of pain mechanisms, focusing on inflammatory pain, and discusses the role of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 inhibitors as analgesic agents.