The Differences Between Acute and Chronic Pain

What’s the difference between acute and chronic pain?

As one of the most common issues that everyone faces at one point in their lifetime, pain is something that we simply have to deal with. Typically it will arise as an uncomfortable feeling in a particular part of your body, depending on the type of injury and if it’s a medical condition or not. In most cases, you’ll want to consider seeking medical attention, as pain is typically a sign that something is wrong. The best way to judge pain is to be the sufferer as no one can truly understand how unpleasant the bodily sensations are for the injured person. The two most common types of pain that we experience are acute and chronic.

What is Acute Pain?

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Acute pain is the type of discomfort that you might feel as a result of burns, childbirth, dental work, surgery, or even broken bones. It may present itself as sharp and sudden, though it can go away after receiving the appropriate medical treatment. For example, pain from a broken bone will subside once a cast is applied to the affected area. In many cases acute pain can be an indicator of some type of disease or bodily threat.

The length of time that you experience acute pain may vary, it could be for a week or for a few months, but in most cases it won’t last longer than 6 months. The main thing to remember is that untreated acute pain has the potential to become chronic pain.

What is Chronic Pain?

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As the more difficult type of pain to manage, chronic pain will continue to affect your body even after the particular injury has been medically treated. The pain signals in your neurons will stay active for months or years, substantially longer than with acute pain. You might experience limited energy, tense muscles, lack of mobility, inability to eat, and more. Over time, untreated chronic pain can put such a strain on an individual that they may experience anxiety, fear, anger, and insurmountable depression.

Unfortunately, chronic pain typically results in the individual avoiding activities that they once enjoyed and being unable to return to their regular daily chores. Chronic pain can include neurogenic pain, arthritis, cancer, headaches, and lower back injuries. Depending on the injury, there may or may not be a treatment for chronic pain and it is also one of the most misunderstood types of discomfort that people experience.