Understanding Chronic and Acute Pain

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jan 30, 2013

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Pain can be classified in many ways such as temporal (time or duration), by etiology, or physiological. The basic classification of pain is based on time or duration of pain

  • Acute pain
  • Chronic pain

Acute pain: The characteristics of acute pain are

  • It has a short duration.
  • It has an identifiable pathology and a predictable prognosis.
  • Treatment usually includes analgesics.
  • Usually resolves after treatment.

Chronic pain: The characteristics of chronic pain are

  • Chronic pain is continuous and recurrent (can last for months or years).
  • Is usually caused by a chronic disease and is associated with one of their symptoms.
  • It has an unpredictable prognosis, and mostly an uncertain pathology.
  • Treatment is usually multidisciplinary. 
  • Often arises in the absence of ongoing illness or after healing is completed.


Examples of chronic pain

A few examples of chronic pain are

  • Lower back pain.
  • Arthritis pain.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Migraine.
  • Cancer pain.
  • Neuropahic pain (trigeminal neuralgia, diabetic neuropathy, phantom limb pain, post herpetic neuralgia).


Difference between acute pain and chronic pain


The most important difference between acute pain and chronic pain is that--- acute pain is protective and is relieved when the healing is complete, whereas chronic pain usually persists after healing of the primary event and usually does not serve any useful function.

In addition, chronic pain can significantly affect a person's quality of life.



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