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Acute Pain Vs. Chronic Pain at Jax Spine & Pain Centers

Acute pain is of sudden onset and is usually the result of a clearly defined cause such as an injury. Acute pain resolves with the healing of its underlying cause. Chronic pain persists for weeks or months and is usually associated with an underlying condition, such as arthritis. Acute pain can be mild and last just a moment, or it might be severe and last for weeks or months. Chronic pain is pain that is ongoing and usually lasts longer than six months.

From stubbed toes to stomachaches, we all experience pain. In most cases this pain is temporary (or acute), however other times pain can persist for several weeks, months, or years. Its longevity, cause, location, and circumstances all contribute to how providers treat that pain and help you live the healthiest life possible.

Acute Pain

Acute pain is the most common type of pain, usually associated with common illnesses or injuries like cuts and sprains, or trauma from a severe accident or major surgery. Acute pain occurs suddenly and usually goes away as you heal.

Minor acute pain can be easily treated through over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, physician therapy or exercise, or alternative treatments. Acute pain from trauma or major surgery may require stronger medicines or more intensive therapies.

If not appropriately treated, acute pain can turn into chronic pain.

Chronic Pain

If your pain lasts more than three months, it is considered chronic or persistent pain, and you may require help from your provider to understand the cause and determine treatment.

We estimate that nearly one of every four adults in the United States suffer from chronic pain. At Jax Spine & Pain Centers, we rely on experienced primary care providers, expert specialists, and a balanced, interdisciplinary approach to treating both the physical and psychological effects of chronic pain:

  • Understand the cause. A variety of syndromes and conditions can cause chronic pain. It is essential to identify the root of the pain, as well as managing the pain itself. Different conditions require different types of treatment, what may work well for a migraine headache may aggravate an inflamed colon.
  • Involve the patient. We include patients in their own pain management process, asking them to set goals, contribute to planning, and track their progress as chronic pain is experienced differently by each of us.
  • Treat the pain and other symptoms. While medicines are useful tools in providing relief, they should not be the only part of the chronic pain equation. This is especially true when considering strong substances such as opioids, which can cause addiction and other serious side effects. Your primary care provider may also recommend physical therapy, massage, anti-inflammatory medicines and exercise, meditation and relaxation practices, and working with a behavioral health professional to help with self-regulation of the pain symptoms.
  • Monitor results and follow-up. You can expect regular follow-up appointments with your primary care provider to manage your progress, make changes to your treatment plan, and support your recovery.

You can still live a happy productive life with chronic pain; talk to your provider to consider other options to help with chronic pain symptoms.

Chronic pain can be complex and frustrating for patients. When doctors don’t explain it well, their patients can get upset thinking that chronic pain is just in their head.

Don’t be misled into thinking there is a magic way to eliminate pain. Be especially careful of providers who offer a simple explanation, procedure, medication, or supplement that promises to get rid of your pain. Chronic back pain is not responsive to many of the same treatments, medications, or procedures that are used for acute pain.

Basics of Chronic Pain:

  • 1. Duration: Chronic pain is ongoing, continuous pain that lasts more than three to six months.
  • 2. Symptoms: Chronic pain can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including headaches, joint pain, lower back pain, or broader neurogenic pain.
  • 3. Causes: Chronic pain can stem from many factors including old injuries or surgeries, or one or more underlying disease or health conditions, like osteoarthritis ; carpal tunnel syndrome; or problems with the nervous system

Basics of Acute Pain:

  • 1. Duration: Acute pain is severe or sudden pain that usually lasts no longer than six months, and resolves when a specific underlying injury or condition is resolved.
  • 2. Symptoms: Acute pain is typically sharp, shooting pain in a specific region of the body.
  • 3. Causes: Acute pain is triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and a need to take care of yourself, and you’re likely to know where and why you’re experiencing that pain – such as after scraping or burning yourself, or during recovery from a recent surgery.

Knowledge is power, so understanding the differences between chronic and acute pain can help you to manage your own pain symptoms, so that you can live a full and happy life. And remember that if you have unexpected pain or pain that lasts longer than reasonably expected, consult your doctor right away.

Pain is a signal in your nervous system that something may be wrong. It is an unpleasant feeling, such as a prick, tingle, sting, burn, or ache. Pain may be sharp or dull. You may feel pain in one area of your body, or all over. There are two types: acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain lets you know that you may be injured or a have problem you need to take care of. Chronic pain is different. The pain may last for weeks, months, or even years. The original cause may have been an injury or infection. There may be an ongoing cause of pain, such as arthritis or cancer. In some cases there is no clear cause. Environmental and psychological factors can make chronic pain worse.

Many older adults have chronic pain. Women also report having more chronic pain than men, and they are at a greater risk for many pain conditions. Some people have two or more chronic pain conditions.

Chronic pain is not always curable, but treatments can help. There are drug treatments, including pain relievers. There are also non-drug treatments, such as acupuncture, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery.

Call 904.223.3321 today to set up an appointment with one of our Double Board Certified Providers.

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