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The Difference Between Chronic and Acute Pain

Posted on in Pain

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Pain is often the body’s way of indicating that something is wrong. This form of pain is typically associated with acute conditions. However, sometimes pain is a condition itself rather than a symptom of a condition. This type of discomfort is called chronic pain. Knowing the difference between each form of pain can help you seek the best form of treatment available. Learn the differences between acute and chronic pain below.

Acute Pain

Acute pain can last just a few seconds, six months or even a year and generally is a direct result of an injury, disease or condition. Acute pain can be caused by:

  • Bumps, burns, cuts and scrapes.
  • Broken bones.
  • Medical or dental procedures.
  • Surgery.
  • Labor/childbirth.

The key factor that differentiates acute pain from chronic pain is that acute pain diminishes and disappears as healing takes place. Acute pain can usually be completely eradicated with treatment, which can range from a surgical procedure to simply taking time to rest and allow the body to heal itself.

Chronic Pain 

Chronic pain is a persistent form of pain that continues even after the injury or condition that initially created the discomfort has healed. The Veterans’ Health Association (VHA) describes chronic pain as “intractable pain that exists for three or more months and does not resolve in response to treatment.”

Chronic pain can be caused by:

  • Physical conditions like arthritis.
  • Illness.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Past injury.

The effects of living with chronic pain can be devastating. Loss of energy and mobility, depression, anxiety and weakness all hinder a person’s ability to work or live a full life. Chronic pain can often be dramatically decreased or managed with proper treatment like medication, physical therapy or surgery.

No one should have to live with pain. At Southeast Ortho, we take our clients’ discomfort seriously. Our qualified team of orthopedic specialists and surgeons are highly ranked in their respective fields and have the knowledge and experience to insure that you receive the best care possible. Contact us today to take the first step toward eliminating pain.

Photo Credit: WebMD

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