How do Acute and Chronic Pain Differ?

Our bodies experience pain as a warning sign that something is wrong. Acute pain means pain that comes on quickly, usually as a result of a specific injury or medical procedure, and goes away again when there is no cause. Chronic pain refers to ongoing pain, usually occurring over a period longer than six months and often continuing even after an illness or injury has gone.

acute vs chronic pain

Why do we feel pain?

Pain is an important warning signal that means that something in our body is hurt or not working properly. Feeling pain is a response to an injury or a sign that something else is wrong and happens when the nerves send a message to your brain. Pain is useful to help diagnose issues but you know your body better than anyone else which means you are the best judge when something is wrong.

What is acute pain?

There is usually a specific cause of acute pain. This tends to be a sharp pain that comes on suddenly and doesn’t last longer than six months. This type of pain might be experienced as moderate discomfort that disappears quickly or it may be more severe pain that lasts a few weeks or months. Importantly, acute pain tends to have a specific cause which means the pain alleviates once the underlying injury or illness has been treated or healed.  

Common causes of acute pain:

  • Surgery
  • Muscle Strain
  • Broken Bones, sprains, cuts and burns
  • Dental work

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is pain that typically lasts in excess of six months. This is a persistent or ongoing pain that sticks around even after treatment or when the injury or illness that caused it has healed. This happens when pain signals remain active in the body even when there is no apparent cause. Your body has the ability to leave pain circuits on auto-pilot after an injury has settled. This is called Neuroplasticity.

Common chronic pain conditions:

  • Headache
  • Back Pain
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia

What’s the difference between acute and chronic pain?

The difference between acute pain vs chronic pain can be determined by the amount of time since the pain started. It’s not possible to tell whether pain will become chronic at the onset but there is a link between chronic pain and stress and depression. If you have chronic pain, you may experience other physical conditions such as a loss of energy or changes in appetite. It’s also important to consider the emotional effect this can have on the body as you may start to feel anxious or fear an injury returning.

Can a Chiropractor help with chronic pain?

There are various chiropractic treatments that can help you manage chronic pain when it’s caused by neck or back pain such as a herniated disc or sciatica. Your treatment plan will depend on your specific condition or the type of pain you’re experiencing but you will be able to work with your chiropractor to develop a plan that works for you.

Although chronic pain doesn’t respond to pain relief or typical pain management techniques, there are lots of chiropractic treatments that may be able to help you relieve inflammation or muscle tension and enjoy a better quality of life.

At Morley Chiropractic Clinic, we have a team of professional and qualified staff to help determine the cause of various issues and find the best treatment. Get in touch with us online for more information or give us a call on 0113 238 3693.

Contact Us

0113 238 3693

Bruntcliffe Road
West Yorkshire
LS27 0LQ

Opening Times

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  • Tuesday: 8am to 7pm
  • Wednesday: 8am to 7pm
  • Thursday: 8am to 7pm
  • Friday: 8am to 6pm
  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: Closed