Chronic Pain

A Pain in the Back. Three Types of Back Pain

Source: Spine Health


1. Acute pain lasts for a short duration. The relationship to the tissue damage is obvious with acute pain. Similarly, the pain itself is predictably intense followed by an ache. An example would be closing a door on your finger as the initial pain is fast and then a long-lasting dull ache follows. Depression, anxiety, lack of exercise, and simply thinking about the pain all are factors which may transition the pain to a chronic pain.

When deciding how to cope with your acute pain, information to share with your health care professional includes the cause of the pain, the intensity of the pain, and how long it has already endured.

2. Chronic pain lasts three to six months. Compared to acute pain, it is not as well understood. An example of chronic pain is fibromyalgia. When the source of pain is unidentifiable it is known as chronic benign pain. Chronic pain may be designated as lasting beyond the healing of tissue. Chronic pain is described as musculoskeletal pain.

Opioid pain relievers are frequently used to treat chronic pain (more so in the recent past than presently, however).

3. Neuropathic Pain continues beyond the healing of tissue as with chronic pain, but the pain is not musculoskeletal pain. Instead it is described as a sharp stabbing cold or hot pain. Despite any obvious signs that tissue damage is the cause of pain, nerves continue to fire pain messages to the brain.

Opioids tend to be ineffective in treating neuropathic pain. Instead, antidepressants or anticonvulsants frequently help. Outside of medications, nerve block injections or pain pumps are viable options. Spinal cord stimulation is another (minimally invasive) option which should be considered.

Regardless of the category of pain, care for the pain should not be delayed in order to reduce further complications as time passes. Acknowledging and dealing with the pain early on is always optimal.