Is Your Pain Chronic or Acute?: How to Tell the Difference

April 15, 2023

Pain is how your body communicates to your brain that something is wrong.  While pain is never a pleasant experience, pain can help pinpoint where and why something isn’t right within your body. Aches can range from mild discomfort to severe debilitating torment. However, we understand that identifying your pain is easier said than done.  

There are two types of pain: acute and chronic. Understanding your type of pain can help you determine the cause and find relief quicker.  This blog will discuss how acute pain differs from chronic pain and the best treatment methods. If you’re seeking effective and comfortable pain care, call the Southside Pain Specialists in Birmingham, AL, to learn what specialized treatment plan will work for you.

What is Acute Pain?

You’ll experience acute pain when you stub your toe or burn your finger. This type of hurt is sudden and is traceable to a specific cause. It’s usually sharp and temporary. When the stimulus is removed, the pain will cease as well. 

Common causes of acute pain include:

  • Surgery
  • Broken bones
  • Dental work
  • Burns 
  • Cuts 
  • Labor
  • Childbirth
  • And others

Acute pain is biologically beneficial because it allows the person to understand something wrong, seek treatment, and begin healing. The best way to treat acute pain is to identify the cause and to medicate it properly. 

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic Pain is a persistent and distressing disorder where the pain is present despite the lack of cause.  Even though it’s hard to identify and often misdiagnosed, 20% of Americans suffer from this condition.

Chronic pain is characterized by its persistence for six months or longer. Pain signals will continue to fire without an underlying injury or other cause. While there’s currently no cure for chronic pain, research continues to find new and effective treatment options. 

Some research has connected chronic pain with conditions such as:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Nerve pain
  • Back pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • And others

However, you don’t need any underlying conditions to experience chronic pain. 

Chronic pain can cause both physical and emotional side effects. Those with this condition report tense muscles, limited movement, lack of energy, and appetite changes. Beyond physical challenges, some chronic pain sufferers experience depression, anger, anxiety, and fear of injury. 

Treatment Options for Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a unique experience for every patient, so the treatment options are wide and varied. Some of the most effective results come from physical therapy and regular exercise. These activities promote healing, aid in muscle soreness, boost mood and improve the overall quality of life for those with chronic pain. Patients can also try experimental techniques like acupuncture, massage therapy, and temperature stimulation. 

Over-the-counter medications, topical creams, and anti-inflammatories can be used daily but are unsuitable for long-term treatment. These medications are meant for short-term relief and may lose their effectiveness with daily use. Some over-the-counter pain relievers can even have adverse side effects after three consecutive days of use.

At Southside Pain Specialists, we offer non-invasive surgeries, including injections (trigger point, facet joint, and epidural) and invasive surgeries that target pain areas. These treatments are effective for long-term relief because they target the root causes of chronic pain. Surgery is a last resort option for patients that find their chronic pain unbearable. 

Discover Relief with Southside Pain Specialists in Birmingham, AL

Southside Pain Specialists offers a wide variety of treatment options for chronic pain. We understand the impact of pain on every aspect of your life, so we take your treatment seriously. After a consultation, we can pinpoint the underlying causes of pain and create a specialized treatment plan. 

The highly skilled and knowledgeable physicians at Southside Pain Specialists can perform all procedures, including spinal cord stimulation, trigger point injections, and lumbar sympathetic blockers. Call Southside Pain Specialists at (205) 900-3927 or contact us online to learn more about the different types of pain management we provide.