Chronic vs. Acute Pain

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Characteristic Acute Pain Chronic Pain
Cause Generally known Often unknown
Duration of Pain Short, well-characterized Persists after healing ≥ 3 months
Treatment Approach Resolution of underlying cause, usually self-limited Underlying cause & pain disorder; outcome is
often pain control, not cure

When experiencing acute pain much of the management of pain needs to be focused on the tissue input, as this is a large portion of the condition. Chronic pain is different, thoughts and emotions make up a significant portion of the experience. This means that when experiencing chronic pain it is particularly important to treat not only the tissue input but also your thoughts and emotions.

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