What Is Chronic Pain And How Does It Differ From Acute Pain?

Dr. Edward Paul answers the question: 'How Does Chronic Pain Differ From Acute?'

ByABC News
November 11, 2008, 5:11 PM

— -- Question: What Is Chronic Pain And How Does It Differ From Acute Pain?

Answer: Chronic pain and acute pain are common things that we see in primary care practices everyday, and the obvious difference is acute pain is something where you as a patient or a person experiences pain from either damage to tissue or some part of the body that is pinched or crushed or inflamed in one way or another. A simple thing of catching your finger in a door or in a window is a good example. As opposed to chronic pain which is often defined as pain that lasts longer than six months in duration.

The difference is treatment approaches to acute pain versus chronic pain are very different, and different medications come up in our arsenal in terms of how to attack those pains and really control them. And often acute pain, as you know if you've experienced it as most people have, is something that may be there one minute or one day and then resolves and disappears over the course of time.

So, our goal is to keep people comfortable whether it's acute or chronic pain and keep them functioning at their best, whether it's getting through an acute episode of something or whether it's three years of back pain that has all of a sudden gotten worse, and we need to really change medications or do some other interventions to control.

Next: What Are The Most Common Types Of Chronic Pain?

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