Acute pain and chronic pain are very different. Acute pain can last a short time or a long time, depending on its source. Chronic pain can last indefinitely. Both types of pain will require targeted specialized care for relief.

An Overview of Acute Pain

Acute pain happens in response to something. It can occur for a wide variety of reasons. Stubbing your toe on the coffee table elicits an acute pain response. Breaking a bone, having surgery, and getting a headache are all examples of acute pain.

While these things seem like they don’t have anything in common, they do in terms of pain pathology. You may experience acute pain following a severe injury or childbirth for several months. Even though the pain lasts a long time, it’s not chronic. It eventually subsides when the body heals or is otherwise repaired.

An Overview of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is pain that lasts for longer than six months. This kind of discomfort won’t resolve to treatment or stems from a condition for which there is no cure.

Even with treatment, the body is unable to successfully recover from the aspects of these conditions that cause pain. Pain may be lifelong for people who experience chronic pain.

Some days will be worse than others, and some medications and therapies can provide meaningful temporary relief.

How Acute Pain is Treated

Acute pain is treated proportionately and effectively. The treatment always aligns with the cause of the pain. You wouldn’t administer physical therapy to someone experiencing head and neck tension, and a therapeutic massage won’t repair a broken bone.

Integrative medical teams or solo medical professionals will ultimately decide on individualized and appropriate treatment. Depending on the severity or extensivity of acute pain, the course of treatment can be as short as a single day or as long as six months.

For example, acute pain following a wisdom tooth removal usually resolves within 5 to 14 days. The pain peaks at the beginning and dentists may only prescribe enough medication to keep the patient comfortable for the initial five-day period.

Acute pain following a surgical procedure may require a much longer treatment plan that involves things like physical therapy and massage.

In many cases, over-the-counter pain relievers and practical first aid are used to treat acute pain. Topical relief creams, ice packs, heating pads, and stretching can help to keep people comfortable while their injuries are healing.

How Chronic Pain Is Treated

Chronic pain requires a long-term treatment program that will be adjusted throughout the course of the person’s life. Integrated medical teams discuss how someone responds to certain treatments, deeming their outcomes effective or ineffective.

Since chronic pain cannot be completely cured, an effective treatment is defined as any treatment that provides meaningful relief.

No two cases will be exactly alike. Two people could have nearly identical pain caused by the same condition. One treatment will work wonders for person A, and do almost nothing for person B. There are a lot of considerations to be made along the way. 

The treatment of chronic pain usually involves medications designed specifically for the treatment of the source of pain that someone is experiencing. It can also involve outpatient therapies like massage therapy or physical therapy.

In certain cases, medical professionals may recommend surgery or other invasive procedures if the perceived benefits outweigh the risks. Sometimes, joint replacement or back surgery can be used to repair or eliminate the source of chronic pain.

Chronic pain associated with incurable conditions like diabetes can be treated with weight loss surgery. Severely overweight people with diabetes often experience full remission from their symptoms, including pain, if they reach a healthy body weight.

Managing Pain at Home

People with pain won’t be kept in a supervised medical facility for the entire time they’re experiencing discomfort. Many people will be treated exclusively on an outpatient basis unless they require surgical intervention for discomfort. They’ll be discharged at an appropriate time and sent home with a list of instructions.

Either way, an essential part of pain management occurs at home. This leaves people with a lot of choices regarding the management of their pain. While people should always follow their doctor’s instructions, safely integrating other treatment methods with their doctor’s permission may improve their outcomes.

With Prescription Medications

A lot of pain, but especially chronic pain, is often treated with prescription medication. This is a controversial issue. Many prescription pain medications have adverse side effects and pose a risk for unintended consequences.

Opioids are constantly under scrutiny for their high potential for abuse and overdose. A lot of people aren’t comfortable with the idea of taking opioids, and an increasing number of doctors are coming to understand that concern.

People who are uncomfortable with opioids don’t have to take them. A simple conversation with your doctor will illuminate possible alternatives.

With Over the Counter Medications

Over-the-counter medications can be used to help treat breakthrough pain on a short-term basis. Although there is no potential for addiction with things like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, long-term use can cause damage to the body.

The overconsumption of ibuprofen can lead to severe irritation of the stomach lining, and frequent acetaminophen use can cause extensive damage to the liver. While these medications are safe to use once in a while, they shouldn’t play a role in a daily routine.

With Lifestyle Changes and Holistic Methods

Acute pain will eventually resolve. In the meantime, making mindful lifestyle changes can help the body heal. Proper nutrition, adequate hydration, and light exercise will provide the body with everything it needs to function optimally.

As simple as it sounds, taking a multivitamin, ditching sugar, and going for a short walk every day can do a tremendous amount to improve the way you feel.

People with chronic pain should reduce their body weight if they’re overweight. Obesity can complicate healing and exacerbate pain. Some people find that their pain virtually disappears when they reach a healthy weight for their height.

With Topical Relief Products

Topical products are designed to deliver pain relief from the surface of the skin. They get to work quickly and target the source of discomfort. Topical products are popular among wellness-conscious consumers who don’t want to rely on medications to help them find relief heavily. They’re also a fast fix, which limits pain-related disruptions to their everyday lives.

Hempvana Makes Pain Relief Simple

At Hempvana, we encourage the use of topical products that allow you to address discomfort at the source. The skin quickly absorbs them, and you’ll begin to experience relief within minutes. They’re safe for everyday use and can be applied as needed. We make relief simple.