The Differences Between Acute and Chronic Pain

Both acute and chronic pain can be difficult to live with. Knowing the difference between the two is an important step in determining an appropriate course of treatment. As two distinctly different conditions, acute and chronic pain are defined by specific characteristics.

Acute Pain: Generally, acute pain has an identifiable source and serves a specific function. For example, pain related to an illness may signal that an individual must continue to rest. Likewise, pain felt in a specific joint during movement may signal that there is too much stress on the joint – forcing the individual to cease that movement.
Chronic Pain: This type of pain lasts beyond what is considered the normal period of healing. Generally, chronic pain is any pain that lasts longer than three to six months, however, this time frame is relevant to the specific injury. While some injuries may have expected healing times of just weeks, projected healing time for others may be several months.

What Causes Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain may be caused by many issues, including nerve damage or disease. Often, the source of chronic pain is unidentifiable. In these cases, chronic pain may fall into several categories, including chronic benign pain and chronic non-specific pain, among others.

Treatment Options for Chronic Pain

Identifying the source of chronic pain may help determine an appropriate course of treatment. When treating chronic pain, if a source is identified, medical professionals will attempt to remove the source to the greatest extent possible. This may be done using medications that interfere with pain signaling or through other types of treatment that modify disease progression. In some cases, the physician may recommend surgery if conservative courses of treatment have proven ineffective. If the source of pain is unclear, it may be treated through a variety of methods including massage therapy or painkillers.

To determine an appropriate course of treatment for any type of persistent pain, it is necessary to consult with a qualified medical professional. Doing so will provide an accurate diagnosis along with expert opinion and recommendations to achieve the most positive outcome possible. Marc Cohen and the spine experts at the Marc Cohen Spine Institute have experience helping the people of the New Jersey area alleviate back pain through patient-specific methods. Contact the Spine Institute at one of our many locations to schedule your appointment today.