Bodily pain can come when we least expect it, raising signs that something within the body is wrong. There are two main types of pain: Acute and Chronic. Acute pain is a sudden pain that disappears as quickly as it appears, assuming the source of the pain is not present. Usually, this comes as a sharp and intense pain, like a stabbing, pinching, or burning sensation. Chronic pain, meanwhile, can linger on for weeks, months, or even years at a time, even after the source has been treated.
While acute pain often goes away without the need for assistance, chronic pain may need to be treated by a healthcare professional. Fortunately, the internet has made it easier than ever to seek help, and booking an appointment with a Vancouver physiotherapy clinic, for example, is only a click away.
But what is pain, and why does it trigger in the first place?
Pain, by Definition
Pain is your body’s natural warning response to something being wrong. When you sustain some form of injury, the nerves within your body send out signals to your brain to let you know there is a problem, causing pain. The goal of this signal is ultimate to protect and warn you. For example, touching a hot surface like a stove will signal the nerves to alert your brain in hopes you will quickly remove your hand from the surface before an injury takes place.
Another example would be a sprained ankle or leg, where the pain signals may be extreme enough to limit a person to walk or put further pressure on it. Otherwise, a person may put pressure on the injury, causing further issues.
The Differences Between Acute and Chronic Pain
As previously mentioned, acute pain is a pain that is caused by a specific source and disappears once the cause has gone. In some cases, this can be as quick as touching a sharp or hot surface, but there are examples of lingering pains that are still considered acute. For example, broken bones, surgical incisions, dentistry, childbirth, and more can all cause acute pain for days or weeks at a time. In general, any pain that lasts less than six months may be categorized as acute.
Chronic pain, however, is pain that lasts longer than six months. Chronic pain may be caused by lingering issues related to an injury or illness and continues to happen despite the initial condition being treated. Chronic pain can be difficult to treat, as initial scans and observations may show no signs of injury, despite the pain signals still activating. Some examples of chronic pain can include:
- Back pain
- Chronic headaches
- Nerve and muscle pains
- Seizing of joints such as knees, shoulders, and elbows
When to Seek Help
If you suspect you have chronic pain or find that acute pain is causing interruptions in your day-to-day life, you should speak to your primary health care provider. Your physician may recommend treatments or redirect you to a massage therapist, chiropractor, physiotherapist, or other qualified professional health care worker.
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