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Acute Vs. Chronic Pain

Updated: May 16, 2023


Acute vs. Chronic Pain


Pain is a common experience, and it is an essential signal from the body that something is wrong. Pain can be acute, meaning it comes on suddenly and usually goes away within a few days or weeks, or chronic, meaning it lasts longer than three months.


Understanding the difference between these two types of pain is important because they have different causes, treatments, and effects on a person's life.


Acute pain is usually caused by tissue damage from an injury or surgery. It is a protective mechanism that alerts the body to the presence of a problem and causes a person to take action to prevent further damage. Acute pain is usually localized, meaning it is felt in a specific area of the body. Examples of acute pain include a cut, broken bone, or sprained ankle. According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, acute pain affects about 25 million people in the United States each year.


Chronic pain, on the other hand, is pain that persists beyond the normal healing time of an injury or illness. Chronic pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including nerve damage, inflammation, or psychological factors such as stress or depression. Chronic pain is often widespread, and it can be difficult to pinpoint its exact location.


Common examples of chronic pain include back pain, fibromyalgia, and arthritis. Chronic pain affects an estimated 50 million people in the United States, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine.


One of the main differences between acute and chronic pain is their effect on a person's life. Acute pain is usually short-lived and has a clear cause.


When someone is injured at work or in a car accident, they may experience either acute or chronic pain. Acute pain is the immediate pain felt after the injury and is usually caused by tissue damage. Acute pain can range from mild to severe and is usually localized to the injured area. On the other hand, chronic pain is pain that persists beyond the normal healing time of the injury and can last for months or even years. Chronic pain can be caused by nerve damage, inflammation, or psychological factors such as stress or depression. It can be widespread and can cause significant disability and emotional distress.


Treatment options for acute pain typically involve pain medication and physical therapy, while chronic pain may require a more comprehensive approach that may include medication, physical therapy, and psychological interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or mindfulness-based stress reduction.


It is important to seek medical attention for any injury sustained at work or in a car accident to properly assess and manage any pain experienced.


Here are a few studies and articles on acute and chronic pain:


"Acute and Chronic Pain: What's the Difference?" by the American Academy of Family Physicians


This article provides a concise overview of the differences between acute and chronic pain, including their causes, symptoms, and treatment options.


"The Epidemiology of Pain: Prevalence and Characteristics" by the National Center for Biotechnology Information


This study provides an in-depth analysis of the prevalence and characteristics of acute and chronic pain in the general population, as well as among specific populations such as older adults and individuals with disabilities.


"Chronic Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments" by the Mayo Clinic


This article provides detailed information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for chronic pain, including medications, physical therapy, and alternative therapies.


"Acute Pain Management: Scientific Evidence" by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anesthetists and Faculty of Pain Medicine


This study provides evidence-based guidelines for the management of acute pain, including the use of medications, regional anesthesia, and psychological interventions.


"Chronic Pain Management: A Review" by the Journal of the American Medical Association


This review article provides an overview of the current state of chronic pain management, including the use of opioids, non-opioid medications, and non-pharmacological interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and physical therapy.


Citations /References:


  1. PubMed: www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

  2. Google Scholar: scholar.google.com

  3. ResearchGate: www.researchgate.net

  4. The Cochrane Library: www.cochranelibrary.com

  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

  6. New York Pain Doctors: www.newyorpaindoctors.com (NYPMD)



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