Acute vs Chronic Pain


Injuries to the body, especially to the back can be either acute or chronic. While analyzing acute vs chronic pain, it is important to study the symptoms as outlined in this article. While acute pain occurs only once, chronic pain is associated with wear and tear of muscles and ligaments.
Following the RICE method, you can get relief from acute pain, but certain exercises are recommended for relief from chronic back pain. Learning to keep proper posture helps in alleviating back pain. Use supports such as cushions or pillows, as they may yield results, and apply heat for 15 to 20 minutes on the affected part to reduce chronic pain. Sleep well to release the physical, mental, and emotional strain. Take to breathing exercises and meditation to reduce the muscle tension.
Tai Chi and Yoga are alternate exercise regimes, which can help in flexibility, heart rate, posture, and reducing stress, as well as strengthening the muscles. Do not ignore back pain as chronic back pain, if left unattended, may aggravate and make things worse.



Acute vs Chronic Pain

Pain that lasts a long time is called chronic, and pain that resolves quickly is called acute.


When orthopedic problems occur, people can look beyond the medicine cabinet to find ways to manage pain.


Doctors can prescribe pain killers but there are a variety of medical professionals who offer remedies as well, including physical therapists.


Physical therapists categorize orthopedic injuries as either acute or chronic.


An acute injury occurs when a particular event happens once, causing pain on a normally pain-free area of the body, like a sprained ankle.


Chronic injuries generally result from wear and tear on the body and often alternate between pain and no pain depending on the activity. An example would be lower back pain when you are driving a car.


When acute injuries occur, many physical therapists recommend the “RICE” method for the first 24 to 48 hours — rest, ice, compression and elevation.


There are a series of stretches physical therapists can recommend for acute and chronic pain. However, the recommendations differ for each individual. There are stretching exercises and strengthening exercises, but like the exercises themselves, the duration and regularity differ between each patient. A physical therapist will design a workout after observing the patient’s posture and movement and seeing what yields pain.


“What’s good for your neighbor may not be good for you,” Ngai said.


Physical therapists will work with people to correct posture in these sessions. Often times people’s bodies have compensated for previous injuries and accept improper stances as neutral positions, like hunched shoulders, because of the frequent occurrence.


Improving your posture can alleviate pain and prevent future wear and tear, Boeckmann said.


There are supports, like cushions or pillows, that can reduce the pain as well but these differ for individual situations.


Heat can be used, especially with chronic injuries, to relax muscles and improve comfort. Generally, 15 to 20 minutes of heat on the affected area several times a day helps, said Agnes Schrider, a physical therapist at Nelson Physical Therapy and Wellness Center, located in Roseland.


She said research has shown heat is ineffective after 20 minutes and the idea is to use heat to allow the person to perform gentle movements, which stretch and strengthen.


Heat is beneficial because it increases blood flow, makes the muscles more pliable and reduces pain with movement, she said.


Some of Schrider’s patients, particularly those with arthritis, will start their day with a hot bath or in a Whirlpool tub.


Sleeping is another essential component of the healing process.


People should try to get a good night’s sleep to be better able to deal with the mental, physical and emotional strains the next day. If you are awake and in pain, the muscles tense up and blood pressure and heart rate will be elevated, Schrider said.


Meditation and mindful breathing exercises aid in reducing muscle tension by calming the individual and taking his or her mind off of the pain. It better prepares people to cope with stress. When a person is calm, their body is more relaxed. Often emotional and mental troubles can manifest in physical pain, like in the shoulders and neck, Schrider said.


“You have to take care of the entire body,” she said.


Alternative exercises like Tai Chi and yoga are good ways to combine muscle movement with mental and breathing exercises. These workouts help with flexibility, heart rate, posture and strengthening as well as reducing stress and improving people’s outlooks on life, Schrider said.


“They teach people how to be aware of their body and what’s going on with their body,” she said.


An important thing to remember is to not ignore pain and let it go untreated. Often chronic injuries will go untreated because people don’t hurt all of the time.


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While analyzing the symptoms and treatments for acute vs chronic pain, you should consult a physical therapist to find out the remedial procedures. While acute pain can be reduced by following the RICE method, which does not involve eating lots of Chinese food regular exercises. Instead, it is about learning the proper posture are important to get relief from chronic back pain. Other methods for chronic back pain relief are heat treatment, meditation, Yoga, and Tai Chi exercises. Sleeping well is also important to reduce stress.



When diagnosing and coping with pain, it’s important to know the difference between acute and chronic pain. Here’s a guide to differentiating between chronic and acute pain by Dr. Robert Fenell from




Dr. Tyler from The Colorado Institute for Pain Management explains the difference between Acute and Chronic Pain.




Dr. Reiner Kremer of speaks with News Channel 3 on acute and chronic pain.





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