Acute Pain vs. Chronic Pain

Knowing the difference between acute pain and chronic pain is crucial to effectively treating your pain. Although recognizing the difference may seem straight-forward, pain is a complex reaction of the human body influenced by physicial, emotional, social, physcological and environmental factors.

Acute Pain

  • Usually does not last longer than six months.
  • Usually subsides when source of pain is treated or the body recovers.
  • Usually mild to moderate intensity but can be intense and concentrated.
  • Often treatable.
  • Usually the result of an acute illness such as appendicitis, an injury, overuse or surgery.
  • Usually does not result in emotional and/or psychological ailments such as anxiety and depression.
  • Rarely leads to chronic pain. Chronic pain may result in some cases if acute pain is not appropriately treated.
  • Chronic Pain

  • Chronic pain persists longer than the normal recovery time for an acute injury or illness.
  • Does not subside after source of pain is treated.
  • Related but not limited to chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, headaches, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, or vascular disease.
  • Chronic pain is often difficult to diagnose or treat.
  • Often the result of a previous injury.
  • Can result in emotional and/or psychological ailments such as anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, loss of libido, or sexual dysfunction.
  • Often results in disability.
  • Chronic pain can often be managed, but usually not completely eliminated.
  • May have started as acute pain that was left untreated.