Acute Pain or Chronic Pain?

What is the difference between acute pain and chronic pain?

Do you have acute pain or chronic pain?

Pain is a warning sign that will tend to amplify in duration and intensity if the cause is not addressed. Of course you can mask the symptoms with medication and that may work successfully for some conditions or be effective for a long time. But ultimately for chronic pain getting to the cause and dealing with it, is really the solution for living pain free!

Medical and health professionals will generally classify your pain as either acute or chronic but you are the judge of its intensity, whether it is mild, severe or anything in between

Here are some indicators of both acute pain and chronic pain.

What are the indicators of Acute Pain?

Sudden and usually short term.
Normal response to trauma.
Sharp, aching or throbbing pain which may worsen on movement.
Cause is known, typically resulting from trauma to body tissue eg., broken bones, burns, cuts, surgery, dental problems, pregnancy and childbirth.
Expected symptoms as per the trauma identified. Physiological signs such as wincing, grimacing, sweating, rapid pulse and breathing etc., which go away with healing.
Pain usually disappears when cause is treated or healed.
If not treated effectively can develop into a chronic pain.

Acute pain is typically caused by muscle, nerve or tissue damage as a result of trauma, injury or surgery. Since the reason is obvious, it is normally relatively easy to correct or remove the source of the pain. Accordingly acute pain will tend to decrease over time as the tissue damage heals or the source of pain is removed.

What are the indicators of Chronic Pain?

Long term, typically more than three months.
May be an abnormal response in that initial trauma may have healed but pain persists. Can be a condition or disorder by itself.
A mix of sharp, dull, burning or tingling pain, often experienced frequently or daily and includes neuropathic pain where the problem may be in the nerves, spinal cord or brain.
Cause may or may not be known. May result from ongoing, degenerative, musculoskeletal, infective, malignant conditions or no identifiable cause.
Varied symptoms eg., headaches, back pain, joint or arthritic pain, nerve pain, tight muscles, limited mobility, tiredness, anxiety, anger, depression, fear, etc.

Pain receptors may become hypersensitive and too easily activated or the brain and spinal cord may be unable to dampen or decrease pain signals. 
Pain persists after normal injury healing time or there may be no known cure.
Referred pain and compensation patterns often develop.

Unresolved pain that persists past three months is termed chronic and continues beyond the normal healing time. Its cause may not always be attributed to physical tissue damage. Chronic pain can also be the result of a degenerative or malignant condition or may have no readily identifiable origin.

Chronic pain activates the sympathetic nervous system, the body’s ‘fight or flight’ automatic response. It places the body in continual stress mode which can impact on issues such as heart rate and blood pressure, constrict blood vessels, etc. It is not good for the body to remain in that heightened stress response.

Acute pain or chronic pain? Which do you have? No matter which sort of pain you are experiencing, I can help with both physical relief and mindset.

Get in touch to book your free fifteen minute consult so we can discuss what you need!

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