What's The Difference Between Acute and Chronic Pain? - Olathe Chiropractic

What’s The Difference Between Acute and Chronic Pain?

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Woman walking on path while holding her lower back in pain

Pain is typically involved in the injuries and accidents that we occasionally experience, but some patients can feel this pain for short or long periods of time. While acute pain is described as pain that appears suddenly due to a specific injury, chronic pain is long-lasting and deals with an underlying condition, such as arthritis. Patients can experience both acute and chronic pain depending on what injury or condition they’re dealing with, which affect what kind of treatment they receive. Chiropractic care, massage therapy and nutritional testing are some ways to treat pain without the use of narcotics or medications. Find out what else you can do to reduce your pain and start feeling better again with this guide!


Acute Pain

Each of us has felt pain at some point in our lives, some more than others. But pain comes in two different forms, acute and chronic. These words are often attached to pain but describe two very different experiences. Acute pain is known as short-term pain that occurs after a serious medical condition caused by injuries or infection. Pain is perceived by the body when this happens via the receptor cells from the nervous system in the injured area, which then transmits signals to the spinal cord and brain. What makes acute pain unique is that it comes on very suddenly but usually doesn’t last longer than six months, if not much shorter. While acute pain hurts when it first develops, it goes away quite quickly and life returns back to normal. Examples of acute pain include cuts, burns, broken bones, bee stings, surgery, dental work and childbirth, among others. Some of these, especially childbirth and broken bones, are extremely painful but they resolve after a few months, which is why they’re categorized as acute.


Chronic Pain

While acute pain is short-term, chronic pain is long-term and lasts for more than six months. Chronic pain can continue even after an injury or illness has completely resolved, making daily activities hard to complete. This type of pain can develop even if no traumatic injury has occurred. Certain medical conditions like sciatica, migraines and arthritis are contributors to chronic pain, as well as fibromyalgia and cancer. Whiplash from a car crash, shingles, carpal tunnel syndrome and herniated discs can cause people to feel varying levels of pain that oftentimes turn into chronic issues. Nerve and back pain are also notorious for causing chronic issues that are difficult to treat and interfere with everyday life. Some symptoms of chronic pain include aching knees from arthritis, neck tightness, leg pain from sciatica and hands and feet that experience tingling sensations. People suffering from chronic pain also experience various physical and emotional effects. The constant pain causes tense muscles, changes in appetite and immobility in some cases, which affects patient’s physical abilities. Emotional changes can also occur in these patients and cause depression, anxiety and anger. Not every person will feel such a range of emotions due to their chronic pain, but many will experience fluxes and flows of them.


Treating Chronic PainChiropractor adjusting male patient's back

Acute pain is relatively easy and fast to treat, but chronic pain takes more time and effort. Many patients initially treat their pain with over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, Advil and other anti-inflammatory drugs. In severe cases, some patients will need prescription opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, but these often lead to abuse and addiction which makes many people wary to use them. Interestingly enough, antidepressant and anticonvulsant medications are known to relieve chronic pain but must be taken each day, whether you’re experiencing pain or not. Muscle relaxants are also administered to settle muscle spasms but must be taken as directed because they’re known to cause drowsiness. Many patients with chronic pain take some type of medication, but if you’d rather not take pain killers, there are other options for you to treat your pain. Steroid injections are common for patients with neck, back and leg pain and are effective alternatives to daily pills or medicines. Natural ways to relieve pain include regularly exercising, physical therapy, massage therapy and chiropractic adjustments. Even if you choose to use natural healing options, you should always speak with your medical provider before engaging in activities or taking any sort of medicine to relieve your pain. Make a plan with him/her to decide what is appropriate for your needs and wants so that your health is always the number one priority.


Get Rid Of Your Pain With Our Help!

At Olathe Chiropractic, our team can treat your chronic pain with chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy and other medication-free pain management options. Whether you have acute or chronic pain, we will create a specialized treatment plan that is unique to your needs. Call our office today at (913) 839-8643 to schedule a consultation and begin your journey to a pain-free life!

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