It is well established that Pain is a normal part of life. When we experience an injury or are stricken with a disease, pain tells our bodies that something is wrong. In this respect, pain can be life-saving. However, when pain persists or is severe in nature, quality of life is often diminished. Before an individual can pursue the goal of pain relief, it is first important to understand the type of pain experienced, starting with the classification of discomfort as acute or chronic. Is the pain sharp in quality? Was its onset sudden? Is the pain the result of an injury, surgery, or unknown element? Has the pain continued after its known cause has been treated or has healed? Knowing the answers to these questions can help patients understand the difference between acute and chronic pain and begin on the path to acute and chronic pain control.
Acute pain is generally brief in nature and is the direct result of an injury or disease. When the condition or conditions causing pain are treated, and the body has healed, acute pain will subside. Broken bones, post-operative pain, and burns are common causes of acute pain and can often be alleviated through pharmacological pain management. Alternatively, chronic pain can persist even after an injury has healed or a condition has been treated. In such instances, the nervous system continues the transmission of pain signals to the brain, causing prolonged periods of unchecked discomfort. Consequently, managing and regaining control over chronic pain becomes the end goal for patients whose pain problems have taken a toll on their physical and emotional health.