Pain relief has been one of the oldest and most important duties of the physician. There has been little change with regard to this obligation of all caregivers. One-third of patients with advanced cancer will develop clinically relevant skeletal metastases and chronic pain during the course of their disease. All physicians involved in the treatment of cancer patients should know the basic principles of pain treatment. These are described in the following article with special regard to bone pain of malignant origin. Correct assessment of pain intensity and frequency, as well as of the probable causes of pain, and the administration of adequate analgesic treatment should achieve satisfactory results in the vast majority of patients. Every physician should obtain detailed knowledge of the indications and adequate administration of pain-killing therapy as well as possible adverse effects and their successful treatment. It is important in particular to concentrate on a few nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as well as opiates. Knowledge of adequate doses, maximal recommended daily doses, pharmacological properties, important adverse effects and interactions is essential for success in the daily routine. Only by selecting 2 or 3 drugs from each step in the analgesic ladder (WHO) will the nonspecialised physician obtain sufficient experience for optimal analgesia. Physicians should also not hesitate to contact other specialists (medical oncologists, radiotherapists, neurosurgeons, anaesthesiologists and others) in order to maximise benefit for an individual patient.