not to say this isn't possible in a hospital but the way hospitals are set up and run is not conducive to tolerating the pain of labor.
most hospitals (in this area just about all of them) are spending more money on new technology and machinery and not enough on training and staff. If women were welcomed at a hospital (although this is probably more likely to occur in a birth center) with warmth and respect by people who view birth as a normal and natural process and understand the hormonal, emotional and spiritual aspects of birth and thereby allow women to birth as they choose, then maybe pain meds would not be as necessary.
The pain is bad but add to that all of the disrespect and humiliation women experience compounded by the cold and informal atmosphere that immediately demands them to use their neo-cortex and gets their adrenaline pumping, it's amazing anyone can get through it without pain killers.
So yes, I see why some women need an epidural in the hospital but ideally we need to have a space that will allow women to birth in comfort and safety with excellent support and if they did have this then a lot less epidurals would be given.