What Is Acute vs Chronic Pain?

Written by: Arooj Paulus – B. Sc (Applied Psychology)

Last updated date : November 29, 2022

Are you in pain? Does it make it difficult for you to take charge of your life or other things, such as your health? We understand how awful, uncomfortable, and unwelcome pain is. It is a common human experience as life goes on. No matter what kind of pain you are currently having, mild to severe, it can lower your quality of life and keep you from enjoying the life you want. It can range from mild to moderate depending on the type. Let us know what types of pain is and what is the difference between acute pain vs chronic pain.

In this article, we will discuss and contrast pain and its types. In the end, we suggest when you should go to a doctor. 


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Chapter 1:

What Is Pain?

If something hurts, it causes pain, which results in an uneasy or uncomfortable sensation. Pain frequently shows that a problem exists. The International Association for the Study of Pain defines it as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, coupled with tissue damage.

Your nerves, spinal cord, and brain have to communicate for you to feel pain. Based on the core reason, there are many forms of pain such as acute pain or chronic pain.

It may be described as constant, pulsing, stabbing, hurting, pinching, or in a variety of various ways. It can also be merely annoying, like a minor headache. Sometimes it can be disabling. Yet only the person who is in pain knows what it is and how it feels.

It causes bodily symptoms such as

  • You may feel nausea.
  • Weakness in the body.
  • Faintness or dizziness in the head.
  • Or feeling sleepy etc.

However, mental effects may involve

  • You feel angry most of the time.
  • It is common to feel hopeless and sad.
  • You may be irritated easily.
  • Fear and anxiety are common.
  • You may have frequent mood changes, such as being happy one moment and then sad the other.

Most notably, it may alter your way of life and have an adverse effect on your work, personal relations, and mobility.

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Chapter 2:

Acute Pain vs Chronic Pain

Acute Pain Chronic Pain
1. It typically comes all of a sudden and has a clear reason. The pain has a distinct feeling. 2. It usually lessens when the actual reason for the pain is healed. 3. While it has a duration of fewer than six months. Acute pain can be due to a variety of reasons, such as
  • Surgical procedure
  • Broken bone
  • A wound
  • Bruises
  • Labor or delivery of a baby etc.
Example: For instance, Sam is a 28-year-old man. He had severe pain in his wisdom tooth. He also had a headache accompanied by it. Upon dentist examination, it was found that he has tooth decay. He got oral surgery as a result, and the tooth was removed. Afterward, his tooth pain and headache are all gone. Although you can resume your normal activities once acute pain has been cured.
1. It may continue to hurt even after the root cause is healed, such as migraines after a head injury. 2. The brain system continues to receive pain messages for weeks, months, or even years. 3. However, this type of pain lasts more than six months. Chronic pain can be due to a variety of reasons, such as
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Backache
  • Headache
  • Fibromyalgia
Example: For instance, Tom is a 30 years old man. He reported having migraines/ severe headaches since he was 9 years old. However, no known cause is found during a medical checkup. Hence, the condition is disabling for him as he cannot continue to work or study for long hours as the pain gets severe. Further, chronic pain can persist in the absence of a recent injury or obvious physical damage.
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Chapter 3:

Effects of Acute or Chronic Pain

Any pain is uncomfortable and causes a disabling effect on your healing. As we have discussed earlier the bodily and mental / mood effects of pain. However, if the pain persists it can have more severe complications.

Chronic pain is a clinical condition as it affects 1 in 5 persons globally. It might be challenging to accurately diagnose chronic discomfort.

It is crucial to be aware of your possibilities and available treatments if you want to keep living the life you deserve and continue to do the activities you enjoy.

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Chapter 4:

The Similarity between Acute and Chronic Pain

The need for effective pain treatment is one of the main similarities between acute and chronic pain. Despite our best efforts to ignore the pain, unchecked pain increases both the pain itself and all of its serious consequences. The intense pain should start to subside a few days after any injury. Medical care will be helpful if it does not heals. Or if the pain is having a very serious effect on work and life. It is preferable to seek treatment than to put up with uncontrollable pain.

People who suffer chronic pain must also receive proper pain relief. But they also need treatments planned for people with this condition, such as pain awareness, goal-setting, stress reduction, medicine, and services from occupational therapists.

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Chapter 5:

When to See a Doctor or Therapist?

If the pain lasts longer than you would normally expect, let your doctor know.

Chronic pain shows a problem that goes far beyond tissue damage. All types of pain can usually be effectively treated with expert understanding. But chronic pain calls for a team approach and treatments that address the body, mind, and soul.

There is a number of treatment options available at Epsychonline. Different people feel pain in unique ways. Some people experience pain for only a short period, while others feel pain for a very long time (chronic). There are various methods, relying on your pain’s nature and severity. You can find learning material and courses about “Chronic Pain” as mentioned below.

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Chapter 6:

Call to Action

You can read “Constant Headaches Every Day. Why Do I Always Have a Headache” or “Fibromyalgia – What You Need to Know”, under the section on body and aches at Epsychonline. To help learn about chronic pain and how to manage it.

"Quick online learning, thanks!" Susan

92 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount