What is the difference between acute and chronic pain?

How is pain defined? Understanding the answer to this simple question can help you and your doctor find the best way to treat your pain. The first step is defining the common types of pain: acute pain and chronic pain.

Acute Pain

Ice pack on knee to relieve acute pain

Acute pain is pretty much any pain that lasts less than three months. Pain that is directly related to soft tissue damage such as a sprained ankle or a paper cut is also considered acute. We usually think of acute pain as sharp and severe. Acute pain does not last long and gradually resolves as the injured tissue heals. Most causes of acute pain can be remedied with basic self-care. But some issues and injuries can be more severe and may require medical treatment. Contact your doctor if you are experiencing acute pain that is causing you concern.

Chronic Pain

X ray image of human body hunched over with chronic pain

Chronic Pain refers to pain that lasts longer than three months. The pain will often grow worse and reoccur over time, outlasting the usual healing process. Most pain is generally expected to stop once the underlying condition is treated and the injured tissue heals. However, chronic pain can persist long after injuries for no apparent cause. It can cause significant psychological and emotional trauma and often limits an individual’s ability to fully function. Chronic pain will usually require medical treatment.

Pain Treatment at Twin Cities Pain Clinic

Treating pain is what we do. It’s right there in our name, and we’re pretty good at it. Whether you’re suffering from acute or chronic pain, we can help you find relief. Our friendly providers are highly trained and specialize in treating pain from head to toe. Schedule an appointment today and return to the quality of life you deserve.


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(1.) https://www.spine-health.com/glossary/chronic-pain

(2.) https://www.spine-health.com/glossary/acute-pain

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