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Acute Pain vs Chronic Pain

What is pain?

Pain occurs when something hurts, causing an uncomfortable or unpleasant feeling. The presence of pain often means that something is wrong or has happened.


When it comes to pain, there are two different types of pain: Acute vs Chronic Pain. All pain is unwanted, unpleasant and uncomfortable. No matter the type of pain you may experience, it can range from mild, moderate to severe and all pain has the ability to reduce your quality of life and prevent you from living life. 


The main difference between the two main types of pain: acute vs chronic, is that the acute pain typically has a specific, treatable cause and is short term. Whereas chronic pain is not so easily diagnosed because it can be rooted in underlying, “invisible” causes. 


Acute Pain


Acute pain is a sudden, sharp pain that lasts less than 6 months. Acute pain acts as a “warning” to your body that it is unsafe and typically has a pain quality of sharp. Acute pain can also be caused by a fever or infection. A common belief is that acute pain is mild and temporary but in fact, acute pain is also very complex.

This type of pain is typically caused by something specific- a broken bone, pulled muscle, surgical pain, burns or cuts, or even labor and childbirth. The acute pain goes away once the affected area has been treated. 

Therapy for acute pain treats the cause of the pain. Typically medication management is needed for this type of pain. However, it can be tricky to diagnose because the acute pain symptoms can come and go without warning. The pain does not last all day and night & can produce symptoms that last a few days, a few minutes, or even just a few seconds. 

Doctors will use the Wong-Baker FACES pain rating scale and have their patients rate their pain on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being minimal pain and 10 being the worst pain of your life). This rating helps the doctor learn about the pain levels and allow them to better assess the seriousness of the situation. 

Other tests may include blood work, imaging (MRIs, CT scans and Xrays). 



Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is ongoing pain lasting longer than six months. This pain is considered a disease state and affects 1 out of 5 American adults. Chronic pain can sometimes be hard to diagnose and can also be misdiagnosed for a while. Physical effects of chronic pain include tense muscles, limited mobility and changes in appetite. Emotions effects include depression, anger, and fear of re-injury. 

Chronic pain is caused by an underlying issue, typically something surgery may not be able to heal. Chronic pain patients may undergo a variety of treatments to find help. Oral medications and creams or ointments, such as anti-inflammatories, opioids, and muscle relaxers can help reduce pain on a daily basis, but these are not meant for long term use! Treatments without medication like injection therapy, physical therapy and chiropractic therapy have been proven to help patients reduce their chronic pain, increase their quality of life, while minimizing medication dosages. Other treatments include spinal cord stimulators, peripheral nerve stimulation, si joint fusion, and intervertebral spaces. 

Many types of chronic pain include but are not limited to the following: migraines, arthritis, cancer, back pain, nerve pain, neck pain, and fibromyalgia. Pain is different for everyone, especially chronic pain. Due to this, treatment options for chronic pain patients vary. 

Patients who suffer from severe chronic pain are candidates for injections, also known as injection therapy. These injections are a mixture of an anesthetic and steroid that is injected in the area of pain to help alleviate the source of the pain. Types of injections that pain care offers includes: 

At Pain Care, we know chronic pain reduces a person’s ability to live their lives. Knowing your options and treatment availability is important to maintaining the lifestyle you deserve and to keep you doing the things you love. While both opioid and non-opioids may be used at times as part of a pain treatment plan, they are not safe to use long term. When combined with interventional treatments, we can help you live a healthier, safer life! 

To book your new patient consultation call us at 770-771-6580 or visit our website and speak with our online nurse Natalie to learn more.

Casey & Darlene

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