Pain is a common problem, but unfortunately, it is one that is still notoriously neglected and poorly managed. Although it usually is not rated highly in public health statistics, it forms a substantial proportion of the everyday work of health care professionals, and thus remains a major public health burden. The first challenge in successful pain management is overcoming the ineffective learning processes most health care practitioners use to update their procedures and therapies in response to the latest research. The ready availability of over-the-counter analgesics means that much of the pain in the community is now self-medicated, and it is vital that they also have ready access to the latest evidence-based recommendations. Second, better methods are needed to tailor treatment to individual patients because differences in comorbidities, drug metabolism, or the nature and severity of disease processes lead to different responses from individual patients. Such tailoring should also account for differences in side-effect profiles of the various treatment options available. Finally, even if health practitioners are aware of the latest in clinical evidence and recommended practices, they may not be able to implement the most appropriate treatment because of legal or financial barriers. This article will to review these three challenges to the management of pain and discuss practical ways in which they may be handled to help reduce the burden of pain care in society.