Objective: The field of pain-related research has gained more attention as the prevalence of chronic pain increased over the years. The objective of this research was to identify highly cited papers, as well as contributors, to pain-related research. Design: Pain-related articles published from 1900 to 2011 were screened, and highly cited papers, with at least 100 citations since publication, were identified and selected for a bibliometric analysis. The total number of papers, authorship, and collaboration statistics are presented for countries, institutions, and authors. To assess contributions, a new indicator, the major contributor index (MCI), was used. Citation trends for all papers, as well as for top papers, are presented. Results: A total of 7,327 articles, 2.4% of all pain-related articles, had received at least 100 citations since publication. In recent decades, top-cited articles have reached a citation peak more quickly, and have shown a more-rapid decreasing trend, compared with top-cited articles from earlier decades. The leading countries were United States, UK, Canada, and Germany. The leading institutions were Harvard University, University of California, San Francisco, University of Texas, and University of Washington. MCI varied among leading institutions, as well as among individual authors. Conclusions: An indicator like the MCI can provide a proxy for the contributions made by an individual or institution. It reflects the independent research ability and leadership. In future evaluations of institution or individual performances, the MCI should be included, together with the number of total papers, to provide a better profile of research performance.
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