Acute Vs. Chronic Pain: Understanding the Difference

Pain is a normal part of life. When we experience an injury or are stricken with a disease, pain tells our bodies that something is wrong. In this respect, pain can be life-saving. However, when pain persists or is severe in nature, quality of life is often diminished. In order to develop an appropriate treatment plan, it is important to understand the type of pain experienced, starting with the classification of discomfort as acute or chronic. Is the pain sharp in quality? Was its onset sudden? Is the pain the result of an injury, surgery, or began spontaneously? Has the pain continued or worsened after its known cause has been treated or has healed? Knowing the answers to these questions can help patients understand the difference between acute and chronic pain and begin on the path to pain control.

Acute pain is generally brief in nature and is the direct result of an injury or disease. When the condition or conditions causing pain are treated, and the body has healed, acute pain will subside. Broken bones, post-operative pain, and back pain are common causes of acute pain and can often be alleviated through pharmacological pain management and conservative therapy. Alternatively, chronic pain can persist even after an injury has healed or a condition has been treated. In such instances, the nervous system continues and facilitates the transmission of pain signals to the brain, causing prolonged periods of unchecked discomfort. Consequently, managing and regaining control over chronic pain becomes the end goal for patients whose pain problems have taken a toll on their physical and emotional health. That's where our Harvard Medical School, fellowship-trained pain management specialists will work with you to develop an individualized pain management plan.

Pain Types & Common Pain Conditions

The causes of pain are wide-ranging. Whether the result of injury, musculoskeletal deterioration, disease, or syndrome, there are a number of pain management procedures and services available to patients afflicted with debilitating pain conditions, including interventional pain procedures, physical rehabilitation, and pharmacological treatments. If you suffer from acute or chronic pain and live within the New England regions of Southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts, relief may be within reach. The doctors, specialists, and caring staff of Pain Management Centers of New England utilize state-of-the-art and minimally invasive treatment strategies to get at the root cause of your pain, and put into action evidence-based treatment strategies with the goal of long-term pain control.

Conditions Treated at Pain Management Centers of New England:

Type of MedicationIndication
Narcotics (Opioids)/Analgesics Opioid analgesics are typically prescribed for severe cases of acute pain, like that of post-operative pain, or cancer pain. However, in certain cases, it may be prescribed for instances of chronic pain.
Muscle Relaxants Muscle relaxants are prescribed to reduce spasms and cramping of the muscles.
Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) Appropriate for instances of mild to moderate pain, NSAIDs reduce inflammation.
Corticosteroids Corticosteroids are used to control inflammation of the joints and organs.
Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) SNRIs are prescribed to improve pain, reduce depression and fatigue.
Tricyclic Antidepressants Tricyclic antidepressants are utilized to treat pain caused by nerve irritation or nerve damage.
Anticonvulsants Anticonvulsant medications such as gabapentin and pregabalin are used to treat neuropathic pain and chronic pain syndromes.

To prevent harmful drug interactions, the Pain Centers of New England will require a complete listing of current medications, including the use of vitamins and herbal supplements. Additionally, it is imperative that our pain management specialists be made aware of any known drug allergies. While some of the medications listed above may be used in combination, others may not. Our management of polypharmacy – or the administration of many drugs together – will ensure that treatment is appropriate for you and your pain condition. While pharmacologic pain management may prove effective in reducing discomfort, it is important to recognize the risks associated with prescription and over-the-counter pain medications, including side effects and addiction—a topic our caring staff will gladly discuss in detail prior to medical pain management administration.

For additional information both acute and chronic pain relief, contact Pain Management Centers of New England today.



Services We Offer

If you live in or around the New England regions of Southern New Hampshire and the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts and suffer from a pain condition,
speak with your primary healthcare provider about Pain Management Centers of New England.

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