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What is the difference between acute and chronic pain?


What is the difference between acute and chronic pain?

HPRC's Answer

Acute pain is the body's normal response to damage such as a cut, an infection, or other physical injuries. This type of pain usually comes on fast and often goes away in no more than a few weeks or months if treated properly. Acute pain can become chronic when the cause is difficult to treat.

Chronic pain, according to the VHA, "generally refers to intractable pain that exists for three or more months and does not resolve in response to treatment." It is viewed more as its own disease rather than as a symptom of another health problem. It can be affected by physical (sitting or standing), environmental (weather changes), and psychological (such as stress) factors. Chronic pain often cannot be treated or cured; it can only be managed. Therefore, chronic pain may reduce quality of life, well-being, and ability to function over the long term.