Difference Between Acute and Chronic Pain

Distinct clinical entities—acute pain and chronic pain—have been identified. Acute pain is short-lived and connected with muscle tissue spasms and sympathetic stimulation; it is also triggered by a particular illness or injury and serves a beneficial biologic function. In comparison, chronic illness may represent a medical condition in and of itself. Chronic pain is suffering that persists beyond what would be expected, given the nature of the underlying illness or damage. There is no biological reason for chronic back pain, and it often has no clear endpoint. Pain, both acute and chronic, is a major concern in the United States, accounting for 650 million missed workweeks and $65 million worth. Acute pain treatment focuses on eliminating the root cause and blocking nociceptive signals. Treatment for chronic inflammation should be interdisciplinary and include many treatment modalities.

What are the Acute and Chronic Pain?

Acute pain often arises rapidly and has a clear origin. Quality-wise, it is rather incisive. In most cases, acute discomfort will fade within 60 days. When the original trigger for such discomfort is removed, the pain stops. Pain that persists for more than six months is considered chronic, and such discomfort may persist long after the initial injury or disease has resolved. The neurological system stores pain signals that may be activated for a long time, even for years. Even in the absence of recent trauma or obvious physical injury, some individuals experience constant, debilitating pain.

Difference between Acute and Chronic Pain

Acute and chronic pain both are the two distinct health conditions that can be understood with the following diagram

Furthermore, the given table illustrates the underlying differences between acute pain and chronic pain

Acute Pain Chronic Pain
Pain that comes on suddenly and lasts shorter than six months is considered acute. Acute pain alerts the body that something is wrong and that its safety and wellbeing may be at risk. It's often assumed that acute pain is short-lived and not really uncomfortable. However, acute pain is much more nuanced than that. Long-term pain, or severe pain, is defined as discomfort that lasts more than six months. One in five persons in the United States suffer from this disease-state pain. Misdiagnosis of chronic pain is common due to its complexity.
A shattered bone, severe burns, or perhaps even giving birth may all induce this kind of acute agony. As once affected region is cared for, the discomfort disappears. Some sudden pain doesn't last long and is considered acute. Sometimes its effects are short-lived, but always painful. Severe pain is triggered by a deeper condition, which treatment may be able to address. Discomfort caused might undertake a number of therapies to discover one, or perhaps a mix of several, that reduced time the suffering.
Pain intensity therapy focuses on eliminating the root of the problem. Nevertheless, a correct diagnosis might be difficult since the complaints can appear and go suddenly. Indications of the discomfort may remain for a few nights, some few minutes, or even only a few tenths of a second, as well as the pain itself does last 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Headaches, osteoarthritis, cancers, nerve damage, backache, as well as arthritis are just few examples of the numerous chronic pain diseases out there. The experience of pain, particularly chronic pain, may be very personal for each individual. This means that anything from a topical medication to operation may be considered when attempting to alleviate severe pain.

Treatment of Acute and Chronic Pain

Acute abdomen, although abrupt and strong, is simpler to relieve. Injuries like a fractured bone as well as sprained ankle need localized care. The discomfort will disappear, and you can continue your normal activities after the damaged region fully recovers. However, back illness might be harder to manage since its real root may be untreatable. Fibromyalgia is addressed here with various treatment options that may be paired for optimal effectiveness. Pain may be alleviated by anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs either orally or applied topically, while many of these treatments are not designed for prolonged usage. Medication-free therapies are preferable since they can be utilized indefinitely and better meet' the quality of life.

Chronic Pain

Daily discomfort may be alleviated with the use of or under drugs, including generally pro, pain medications, and lotions, but these remedies are not designed for extended usage. Physiotherapy is one non-pharmaceutical treatment that has been shown to assist chronic pain sufferers in improving their quality of life and decreasing prescription use. In addition to conventional medicine, complementary therapies, including acupuncture and transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TENS), are also effective. Pads connected to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulating (TENS) devices offer localized electrical stimulation to the painful location, hence alleviating discomfort. Individuals who experience severe persistent pain may benefit from shots. The shots, which include an anesthetic and steroid, are administered directly into the painful location to provide localized pain relief.

Acute Pain

The most typical kind of discomfort, intense pain, strikes abruptly and has a clear origin, and sharpness in texture is normal. Acute pain often subsides after six months, and in the absence of the root issue, the agony also disappears. Alternatively, medications like ibuprofen and paracetamol, orthodox therapies like physical therapy and yoga, and alternate pain relief options are all viable options for managing moderate, intense pain. Extremely potent medications or intensive treatments may be necessary to treat acute pain after serious trauma or surgery.


In contrast to chronic pain, acute pain often has a clear origin that may be addressed medically. Conversely, the root symptoms of chronic discomfort may be untreatable or little recognized. Fortunately, patients with chronic pain may be treated using various methods. Some people have strong feelings about which pain medication options they would want to try first, so it is important to discuss your choices with your physician. Consider trying more than one approach to alleviate your pain since the first one you attempt may not work. Multiple methods of pain management are often more helpful than one alone. Medication, lidocaine injections, reflexology, electrical stimulation, exercise rehabilitation, neurofeedback, psychological counseling, relaxation exercises, and changes in behavior may all be considered.

Updated on: 03-Jan-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started