CHRONIC PAIN SUFFERERS UNITE!
Acute vs. Chronic Pain
What is pain?
Pain is an uncomfortable feeling and/or an unpleasant sensation in the body. The presence of pain often is an indication that something is wrong. Pain can appear suddenly or can come about slowly.
Each individual is the best judge of his or her own pain. Feelings of pain can range from mild and occasional to severe and constant. Pain can be classified as acute pain or chronic pain.
What is acute pain?
Acute pain begins suddenly and is usually sharp in quality. It serves as a warning of disease or a threat to the body. Acute pain might be caused by many events or circumstances, including:
Acute pain might be mild and last just a moment, or it might be severe and last for weeks or months. In most cases, acute pain does not last longer than six months, and it disappears when the underlying cause of pain has been treated or has healed. Unrelieved acute pain, however, might lead to chronic pain.
What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain persists despite the fact that the injury has healed. Pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or years. Physical effects include tense muscles, limited mobility, a lack of energy, and changes in appetite. Emotional effects include depression, anger, anxiety, and fear of re-injury. Such a fear might hinder a person's ability to return to normal work or leisure activities. Common chronic pain complaints include:
Chronic pain might have originated with an initial trauma/injury or infection, or there might be an ongoing cause of pain. However, some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage.
What is the difference between acute and chronic pain?
There might be no known cure for the disease (such as arthritis or phantom pain) that is causing the chronic pain.
The cause of chronic pain might be unknown or poorly understood.
How is pain treated?
Depending upon its severity, pain might be treated in a number of ways. Symptomatic options for the treatment of pain might include one or more of the following:
Some pain medicines are more effective in fighting pain when they are combined with other methods of treatment. Patients might need to try various methods to maintain maximum pain relief.
What causes chronic pain?
There are many possible causes of chronic pain. According to the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, chronic pain can be grouped into four main types.
A person may have multiple conditions that cause chronic pain (for example, cancer and osteoarthritis).
In some cases, people have chronic pain when there is no apparent underlying cause that can be found. This is known as psychogenic pain. Psychogenic pain does not mean that a person is “making it up” or “crazy.” The pain is very real. However, psychological factors such as anxiety, depression, excessive stress, or environmental factors are the major explanations for this type of chronic pain.
Other types of chronic pain with no apparent cause may result from changes in the central nervous system. Sometimes after a disease or injury occurs, the central and peripheral nervous systems undergo abnormal changes in their structure and function. These changes may make people extra-sensitive to pain and may produce sensations of pain well after the injuries are healed. These dysfunctional changes in the central nervous system are known as central sensitization. Once the central nervous system has become hypersensitive to pain, it is difficult to reverse the hyperactivity and the associated persistent pain.
What is chronic pain? What is the difference between chronic and acute pain?