Purpose The aim of this study was to explore the global research trends of herbal medicine for pain from 1990 to 2019, using bibliometric methods, and explore international collaborations, intellectual structure, the evolution of active topics, emerging trends, and research frontiers. Methods Articles on herbal medicine for pain were retrieved from WoSCC. Two information visualization softwares including CiteSpace and HistCite were used to process bibliographic catalogs. Identification of international collaborations, intellectual structure, the evolution of active topics, emerging trends, and research frontiers were performed based on results from bibliometric analysis. Results A total of 2986 original articles published between 1990 and 2019 were identified based on the inclusion criteria. The number of publications on herbal medicine for pain in WoSCC significantly increased. China ranked highest in the number of scientific outputs; however, articles with the highest citation rates were found to be from the United States. China–Japan reported the most active collaborations, whereas Kyung Hee University from South Korea was the most productive institution. Zhang Y was the most productive author, whereas research by Sherman KJ and Vane JR had the highest influence. Journal of Ethnopharmacology was the most active journal, whereas Integrative and Complementary Medicine was the most active research area. History of herbal medicine for pain research comprises three major phases of activities. The main points of focus of bibliometric analysis of herbal medicine for pain include “knee osteoarthritis”, “cancer”, “low back pain”, etc.. Moreover, research on mechanisms of action of herbal medicine for pain remains at the forefront of this field. Conclusion This paper provides a basis for future development of research on herbal medicine for pain, which may help researchers explore new directions for future research and identify new perspectives on potential collaborations in this field.