Everyone experiences pain at one point or another. It often is an indication that something is wrong.

Each individual is the best judge of his or her own pain. Feelings of pain can range from mild and occasional to severe and constant.

What Is Acute Pain?

Acute pain begins suddenly and is usually sharp in quality. It serves as a warning of disease or a threat to the body. Acute pain may be caused by many events or circumstances, including:

  • Surgery
  • Broken bones
  • Dental work
  • Burns or cuts
  • Labor and childbirth

Acute pain may be mild and last just a moment, or it may be severe and last for weeks or months. In most cases, acute pain does not last longer than six months and it disappears when the underlying cause of pain has been treated or has healed. Unrelieved acute pain, however, may lead to chronic pain.

What Is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain persists despite the fact that an injury has healed. Pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or years. Physical effects include tense muscles, limited mobility, a lack of energy, and changes in appetite. Emotional effects include depression, anger, anxiety, and fear of re-injury. Such a fear may hinder a person’s ability to return to normal work or leisure activities. Common chronic pain complaints include:

  • Headache
  • Low back pain
  • Cancer pain
  • Arthritis pain
  • Neurogenic pain (pain resulting from damage to nerves)
  • Psychogenic pain (pain not due to past disease or injury or any visible sign of damage inside)

Chronic pain may have originated with an initial trauma/injury or infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain. However, some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage.

What Causes Chronic Pain?

Anything from a bad mattress to stomach ulcers can cause chronic pain. While it may begin with an injury or illness, pain can develop a psychological dimension once the physical problem heals.

  • Nerve Pain- When nerve fibers get damaged, the result can be chronic pain.
  • Burns and Pain- Burns differ in type and severity — as does the pain.
  • Compressed Nerve (Pinched Nerve)- Pinched nerves can sometimes lead to other conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow. Early diagnosis can prevent damage.

Are you at Risk?

  • Chronic Pain Conditions- What increases your risk of chronic pain? Your age and gender (being female) play big roles.
  • Aches and Pains in Baby Boomers- Boomers are falling prey to aches and pains of aging. The trend is pushing new pain treatments into development.
  • Joint Pain and Aging- Creaking knees and hips aren’t an inevitable part of aging — and they are a big deal, because they affect every aspect of your life.