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What is acute pain?

Pain is an uncomfortable feeling in the body. Acute pain comes on suddenly and intensely. It is your body’s way of informing you of imminent danger.

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is the presence of pain without an apparent injury. Chronic pain may persist in an area that was once injured, but has since healed. There may be both a physical and an emotional component to the pain. For instance, a person who has suffered a traumatic injury may feel stress, anxiety, and pain signals in that part of the body. Other examples of chronic pain are headaches, back pain, arthritis, and pain caused by nerve damage. Some chronic pain may have no physical basis at all.
woman with acute pain in office

What is the difference between acute pain and chronic pain?

Acute or chronic pain is something you want to go away quickly. But the difference between acute and chronic pain is whether the cause can be identified and minimized or cured. The source of acute pain symptoms can be identified after a medical examination. Care can be provided and, hopefully, the pain will go away quickly.

Acute pain from injuries

It’s easy to understand why the body needs a pain response resulting from an injury, or potential injury. But, that doesn’t make it feel any better when it’s happening. Acute pain from an injury might take up to six months to go away completely. Typically, once the injury has healed satisfactorily, the acute pain will go away. The following is a list of examples of acute pain (not comprehensive):

Broken bones: If any bone in the body breaks, this can cause pain—often intensely.

Muscle strains, pulls, and tears: This is acute pain caused by damage to muscle tissue.

Cuts, scrapes, scratches, puncture wounds, and burns: Damage to the skin tissue will cause acute pain.

Abdominal pain: Acute abdominal pain can be caused by anything from gas and indigestion to kidney stones and Crohn’s disease.

Back pain: Acute back pain, particularly acute lower back pain, is a common complaint. It is caused by muscle spasms, strains, and tears.

Pain related to surgery: Though surgeries are procedures that often save and improve lives, the surgery itself, and the recovery period afterwards, can be painful. Usually, the patient will be given some kind of analgesic to dull the pain of the initial surgery. But, acute pain will continue until the patient has healed.

Dental pain: There are many sensitive nerves in the oral region of the human body. Acute pain can come from a dental accident or dental work. It may also arise from an ongoing issue with dental health.

Menstrual pain and childbirth: Pain can arise at different times in a woman’s menstrual cycle. The time period in which a baby is delivered can be intensely painful.

How to treat acute pain

When acute pain is due to injury, your first priority should be to get away from the source of danger. After that, there are many acute pain treatments available. Caring for the injury and starting the healing process will begin to reduce pain. There may be adjustments you need to make in your daily routine, diet, or physical movement to alleviate the pain. There are also many over-the-counter and prescription medications that provide relief from acute pain. Your healthcare provider should be consulted on every step of the process.

Where to treat acute pain

When you or someone in your family is in pain, FastMed Urgent Care is here for you. Some acute pain happens from life-threatening emergencies that require a trip to the ER. But for many other cases, FastMed Urgent Care is an affordable and convenient choice. You can get immediate treatment without an appointment, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Our care providers are highly experienced in many of the injuries and conditions that cause acute pain. We’ll diagnose and treat the cause of the pain, so the healing process can begin. We’ll also recommend other treatments for pain relief. Finally, we can make an appointment with your primary care physician and, within strict privacy guidelines, may be able to submit all of your medical records directly to their office.


* The content presented on this page is not intended to diagnose health problems or take the place of professional medical care.