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Acute vs Chronic Pain

Acute vs Chronic Pain

As physiotherapists, we are often asked about the difference between acute and chronic pain.  Below are how we would normally describe these terms.

Acute Pain

Acute pain covers a wide range of pains that can last from seconds to months.  Acute pain normally lasts less than six months and is usually a direct result of a specific incident such as an injury or surgery.  Once the tissues are healed and the source of pain has resolved, acute pain should also resolve.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than six months and may be caused by an ongoing condition such as arthritis, but can also occur if pain markers continue to be active within the nervous system following an injury, despite resolution of the damage to the tissues.

Chronic pain can also have a negative effect on the body as many people will have muscular tension and mobility difficulties as a result of pain and may also suffer from depression and anxiety due to the stress the pain can cause.

There are many ways to treat acute and chronic pain.  A thorough assessment to have a look at if there is any damage to tissues that need addressing or how pain affects function and movement.  From this assessment, a physiotherapist can use a range of tools to manage symptoms and restore function specific to your needs.

Tara Lawson

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