Chronic Pain VS Acute Pain

Written by: Dean Liuzzi
Published: August 18, 2022

What is acute pain?

Acute pain occurs due to a incident such as a broken bone, muscular tear or bruising. This type of pain occurs after the result of injury immediately after the event that caused it.

This pain usually lasts for the duration that the injury takes to heal (usually 3 months). This pain that commonly occurs is due to the body healing and repairing itself after the injury and getting use to weight bearing, moving it through its ranges of movement (eg. shoulder reaching overhead)

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is different to acute pain, mainly because it lasts longer than 3months, but also in the nature that other factors contribute to it. Chronic pain usually lasts for 6months + and tends to not always be associated with the orginal injury.

Other factors such as muscle guarding (tensing up muscles due to protecting previous injury), compensatory movement patterns (using different muscles or muscles in incorrect way to complete task that results in pain), stress, anxiety, lifestyle factors, as well as the body being hypersentitive moving due to being in a constant state of pain all may play role in affecting someone that has chronic pain. Their is not one thing that contributes to chronic pain as a lot of factors play a role in this occurring.

How can I Manage Chronic Pain?

With chronic pain, it is not neccessarily about reducing pain all together, as being realistic this might not occur due to various factors that contribute to it occuring in the first place. However, the aim with it is to stabilse pain levels to a level (eg.2-5/10) and minimise the frequency of flare ups (heightened periods of severe pain) and reduce the severity of pain ( 7-10/10). If we are able to stabilise pain levels to a reasonable level through exposing the body to movement (exercise) this will in turn acclimatise the body to not have a severe reaction to moving and not cause severe flare ups of pain.

Why Should I Move Even Though I’m in Pain?

Due to various factors that contribute to chronic pain, we sometimes adopt te behaviour of rest is the best medicine. However, this can often have the opposite effect. If we are utilising static therapy (sitting, laying) more often over active therapy (exercise, stretching, massage ball etc) our muscles can be come deconditioned leading to further complications and pain.

Furthermore, the more time we are sitting/laying or sedentary it can lead to other cardiovascular or metabolic conditions that may stop you from doing the things you love. As we tell many of our clients that come see, humans are built to move, and the more you move you will notice small changes that will add to improve your quality of life and help manage your pain.