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Acute Vs. Chronic Pain: How Are They Different?

acute vs chronic pain

All of us have had pain at some point. It may have been a scraped knee, a headache, or a broken bone. Pain is a sensation that can range from mild to average to severe, and it can also be temporary or last for months or years. We’ll discuss the differences between acute vs chronic pain and when you should talk to your physician.

What is Acute Pain?

Acute pain is a temporary pain that does not last beyond six months. The pain tends to begin suddenly and can be very sharp and intense. It is caused by something specific, such as accidental injuries, sprains, cuts, burn injuries, surgeries, broken bones, childbirth, and more. However, since acute pain symptoms can be irregular, it can be tricky to diagnose.

However, the pain gradually fades away once the underlying cause is identified and treated. Therapies, exercise, alternative treatments, surgeries, or over-the-counter medications can treat acute pain. If acute pain is not addressed properly, it can develop into chronic pain.

Also Read: Ringworm Vs. Eczema: What Is the Difference?

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain persists and lasts for more than six months. It can continue even after the illness or injury that caused the pain has healed. How long and how often the pain occurs will vary between individuals and the cause – some patients may experience it every day, but for some, the pain may come and go over months or even years.

Headaches, back pain, fibromyalgia, vascular disease, arthritis, and cancer can cause chronic pain. To treat chronic pain, patients may have to undergo various treatments before finding the right one or may have to try out a combination of different treatments or therapies. OTC oral medications, pain relievers, and ointments can offer temporary solutions. Sometimes surgery is recommended to treat chronic pain permanently.

Also Read: How to Lower My Cholesterol Levels Through Diet

What is the key difference between acute pain and chronic pain?

Acute pain does not last more than six months and is typically caused by a specific illness or injury. The pain begins suddenly and can have a high intensity. When the underlying cause is addressed, the acute pain is typically resolved. The following conditions can cause it:

  • Childbirth
  • Broken bones
  • Cuts or burns
  • Accident juries or wounds
  • Surgery

Chronic pain is ongoing and typically lasts for more than 6 months. To treat chronic pain, patients may have to rely on a multidisciplinary approach or undergo various treatment options. Chronic pain has physical effects on the body, limiting the ability to move around, reduced energy, appetite alterations, and mental effects like depression, anger, anxiety, etc. Chronic pain is linked to conditions such as:

  • Cancer
  • Back pain
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Nerve pain

When should you talk to your physician?

Whether you have chronic or acute pain, speak with your healthcare provider and discuss the treatment options. Your doctor can guide you with a suitable treatment plan based on your specific symptoms and health conditions.

Are you looking for the best treatment course for acute or chronic pain? Visit our experts today at MI Express Care and MI Express Primary Care to get quality guidance and care.

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