Acute Pain vs Chronic Pain


Nov 12, 2018


There’s nothing like pain to remind us of things we take for granted when we’re healthy. When we feel discomfort, we realize how even the most mundane tasks such as brushing teeth or getting dressed can become an exhausting effort.

Not all ailments are created equal. Sometimes a person will experience acute pain, while others live with chronic pain. Below we present an overview of both.

What’s the Difference Between Acute and Chronic Pain?

Acute pain is what a person feels immediately after an injury. If a person suffers from a fall or is involved in a car accident, they will experience acute pain.

On the other hand, chronic pain is present for extended periods of time. It could be either constant or recurring. If a person continues having this sort of pain for six months or longer, the pain is considered chronic.

What Are the Causes of Both Types of Pain?

As stated above, since acute pain is felt right after an injury, its cause is blunt trauma. The pain can be either sharp and excruciating or dull, depending on the severity of the injury.

The cause of chronic pain is often a health condition, such as migrainesarthritislupusmultiple sclerosisfibromyalgia, or cancer.

Symptoms of Acute Pain

Symptoms of acute pain are the same as those typically endured with an injury:

  • The kind of stabbing pain that makes you cry out loud
  • Shooting pain
  • Throbbing
  • Burning sensation

The more serious the injury, the higher the intensity of the pain. Another factor that comes into play is adrenaline. If a person is trying to get away from danger, their ability to feel pain at the moment is significantly diminished. Yet, once adrenaline levels go down, they will feel it.

If the pain is severe, it could cause complications, such as high blood pressure, difficulty breathing, or physical dependence on prescription medications.

Symptoms of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can manifest itself in various ways. Usually, the person will feel a pain that won’t subside, sometimes accompanied by stiffness or soreness. Depending on the health condition that’s causing it, the pain can range from mild to debilitating.

In addition, due to its longevity and persistence, chronic pain has a negative impact on many other areas of a person’s life. As a result, the patient can also experience:

  • Interrupted sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Treatment Options for Acute and Chronic Pain

Treatment for acute pain includes the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), as well as opioids and rehabilitation exercises if instructed by your medical provider. If the trauma was serious enough, your doctor may also recommend physical or occupational therapy.

Treatment for acute pain will take into account the person’s underlying health issues. While there are conservative treatment options such as electrical stimulation, acupuncture, and prescription medication, if none of them result in relief for the patient, surgery may be considered.

24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you’re suffering from pain, let us help you. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.