Acute Pain vs. Chronic Pain

by Glenn Maxwell

The human body is a highly systematized machine that has unique ways to protect itself from any harm or damage. There are various signals that our nervous system perceives from different parts of the body, some of them being extremely agonizing. Pain is one such signal that occurs at greater or lesser degrees, depending on the cause and its severity. It can be broadly classified into two major categories – acute and chronic

Acute pain is a common and temporary condition, caused by specific and recognizable factors. It is the intense sensation you experience when coming into contact with a hot object (like touching a stove or iron) or anything sharp (minor cuts and wounds caused by needles, pins, scissors, etc.). Other examples of acute pain include less severe blows or strikes, and cramps felt during menstrual cycles and other such muscular pain. Though this type of ache starts immediately, it doesn’t last for a long time after the underlying cause is healed or treated. It may or may not require consultancy at a pain management clinic, depending on the situation. Here are some causes for acute pain conditions:

  • Surgery
  • Dental problem
  • Broken bone
  • Burns & cuts
  • Childbirth

When your pain continues beyond 6 months and gradually increases, even after the injury or wound has healed, it is identified as chronic pain. For instance, the pain experienced in the whole body in conditions like fibromyalgia or the burning and tingling sensation felt during diabetic neuropathy. Similarly, joint disorders like arthritis give unbearable and persistent aches, seriously hampering the normal activities of a person (like walking, running, etc.) for a prolonged period of time or throughout the entire lifetime. In such cases, a chronic pain specialist must be consulted for timely treatment. Some potential causes for this pain include: 

  • Cancer
  • Nerve pain
  • Headache
  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Fibromyalgia

Complication Associated with Chronic Pain

When this perennial condition is not treated properly, it can lead to problems such as:

  • Poor Sleep Quality – The throbbing and persistent pain continues to interfere with the sleep cycle of the patient, leading to other problems such as anxiety, stress, lack of concentration, etc. 
  • Cardiovascular Problems – The lack of sleep and the stress factors associated with it may put a major strain on the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of high blood pressure and damaging blood vessels and heart tissue.
  • Mental Health Issue – Experiencing incessant aches affects the personal and professional life of an individual, consequently leading to depression and feelings of low self-esteem. Some patients feel frustrated and anxious all the time, going through serious mood swings disorders. 
  • Impaired Quality of Life – All the physiological and psychological symptoms with their combined effects influence the relations, career, productivity, and the overall quality of living for an individual. 

Hence it’s advisable to seek immediate chronic pain management to prevent the worsening of your condition.

When Should A Patient Seek Referral to Advanced Pain Care?

Your acute aches can be diagnosed and treated by your primary physician; however, it’s always best to visit a  pain clinic, in case of both short-term and prolonged pain to reduce any complications. 

If you experience any of the following issues, you must get in touch with a specialist:

    • Pain Extending to Other Body Parts – Chronic pain may not always stay in the affected area alone and may be felt in different parts of the body – like your back pain, which may extend to your shoulder or hip region. 
    • Deadness, Tingling or Weakness – Those persistent and unpleasant sensations of tingling or numbness along with overall weakness and pain in the body are usually not normal; requiring proper medical assistance. Additionally, the partial or complete disability in any part of the body also calls for complete care by a chronic pain clinic.
  • Unexplained Weight Reduction/Fever  – Loss of weight and recurrent fever without a definite cause, as such, are likely to be associated with a chronic pain condition. Such symptoms, for instance, are common in rheumatoid arthritis – when a patient’s joints are attacked by their own immune system. 

The qualified specialists at Advanced Pain Care are experienced in treating a variety of acute and chronic pain conditions (relating to neurology, anesthesia, and psychiatry) with a wide range of treatment options like medication, physical therapies & rehabilitation, surgery, steroids, injections, etc. For the past 20 years, APC has been serving the community across Texas in 13 different locations (including three surgical centers). You’ll be offered the best medical attention with proven medical procedures and safety equipment. 

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