The Difference Between Chronic and Acute Pain

The human body’s way of communicating is through pain. It is normal for the body to feel pain – it’s the only way you will know what’s wrong. Tolerance to pain is different for each individual – some people can tolerate higher level of pain than others. There are usually two different pain descriptors – chronic and acute pain – both of which everyone has experienced at one point or another in their lives.

 The word acute is described in the dictionary as “sharp or severe” and usually refers to the new onset of pain. Acute pain scales typically from mild to severe and it’s probably safe to say it’s the more common type of pain people experience. Sometimes pain can become constant or chronic – and when this happens, it’s something you should explore further with your doctor.
Acute pain is any normal pain your body uses to indicate an injury of some kind. If you fall and break your leg or burn yourself on something hot, your body uses acute pain to notify you of the injury.
Acute pain starts suddenly and usually doesn’t last long. When the injury heals the pain should cease. For instance, a broken leg will hurt immediately and the pain will linger during recovery, but as time goes on, the pain should subside.
When you have a healed injury but the pain lingers for longer than it should, it’s considered chronic pain. Chronic pain can last for weeks, months, or even years, but usually after three to six months of experiencing the same pain a doctor will diagnose it as chronic pain.
Certain areas of the body are more susceptible to chronic paint than others – the spine and vertebrae are especially at risk for developing chronic pain. People with chronic spinal pain should definitely seek out treatments that provide relief. Often these treatments include pain medications, acupuncture, relaxation training and hypnosis.