No one wants to experience pain, especially chronic pain. We understand that. Pain doesn’t have to get in the way of your daily life. Once you know how to treat acute pain before it becomes chronic, you’ll enjoy less painful days.
But how do you treat pain before it becomes chronic? That’s what we are here to talk to you about. In this article, The Spine Center of Southeast Georgia will talk about acute pain and chronic pain, how acute pain becomes chronic pain, and best of all, 7 ideas to treat acute pain before it turns into a chronic circumstance.
Here at The Spine Center of Southeast Georgia, our specialists believe in a multidisciplinary approach, including pain management, neurosurgery, and integrated therapy. We help our patients understand that pain management doesn’t solely involve narcotics and surgery. No, we have better ways to treat pain.
Our model helps patients to prevent and minimize pain before it becomes chronic. Moreover, we help our patients to adapt to a healthier lifestyle to minimize the need for addictive pain medications or intensive surgery.
Now let’s jump right in…
What is acute pain? What is chronic pain?
Acute pain is pain that lasts less than 3-6 months. Or it can be pain that is directly related to tissue damage—in this instance, pain is a symptom of an injury or diseased tissue. Have you ever had a paper cut? Have you ever touched a stove that was really hot? Those are examples of acute pain.
Other examples of events that can cause acute pain include:
- labor pains
- dental work
- broken bones
There are many ways to describe pain. When at the doctor’s office, he or she will most likely ask you to describe your pain as best as possible. The following adjectives are commonly used to describe acute pain:
Not all types of acute pain will turn into chronic pain. Acute pain typically disappears when the underlying cause of the pain has been successfully treated, or when it has healed. However, it is very important to treat acute pain before it becomes chronic.
So what is chronic pain? Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than 6 months. There are two types of chronic pain problems—pain due to an identifiable generator (i.e. an injury); or pain without an identifiable generator (i.e. pain that occurs after the injury has healed).
Physical and emotional effects due to chronic pain include:
- limited mobility
- lack of energy
- changes in appetite and diet
- tense muscles
- cancer pain
- arthritis pain
- lower back pain
- neurogenic pain (pain caused by damaged nerves)
- psychogenic pain (pain that is not due to past injury, damage, or disease)
- fear of re-injury
Chronic pain can disrupt one’s daily life. When someone experiences chronic pain, it is very difficult to enjoy simple activities, let alone staying healthy through routine exercise.
Unfortunately, there is no medical test to measure the level of chronic pain that someone is experiencing. As you may have noticed in your experiences when you’re at the doctor’s office, he or she will tell you to choose one of the following levels of pain: no pain, mild pain, moderate pain, or severe pain. You may have also been asked to choose which facial expression (drawn with a paper and pen) best indicates your pain.
Pain is a subjective matter. It is very unfortunate that some doctors tell patients that chronic pain is “all in your head,” or that “it can’t be that bad.” Our pain management specialists understand chronic pain, so we’d never say that to our patients.
7 ideas to treat acute pain before it becomes chronic
Treatments for chronic and acute pain will differ depending on the underlying cause(s) of the pain. Furthermore, certain pain treatments will work for some people, but not for others. It is very important to be aware of the level of pain you are feeling and discuss this with your doctor. You may need to try different pain management techniques before finding one (or more) that work the best for you.
Here are some ways, including complementary and homeopathic techniques, to treat acute pain so it doesn’t become chronic:
- nerve blockers: Local anesthetics can be used to block the group of nerves associated with pain.
- non-prescription, non-habit forming drug treatments: Some examples include Aleve, Tylenol, or Motrin.
- physical therapy: Some examples of passive physical therapy include hot packs, cold packs, TENS units, and ultrasound. Some examples of active physical therapy include stretching, pain relief exercises, strengthening exercises, and low impact aerobic conditioning.
- psychological counseling: Some examples include talk therapy, relaxation training, stress management, and pain coping skills training.
- behavior modification techniques: One example of this is cognitive behavioral therapy.
- transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): Developed in the late 1960s, this technique uses electricity to help alleviate pain. The low electrical impulses block certain pain receptors so that the brain does not receive the messages that you are in pain. A session is typically 15 minutes, but may require multiple sessions for successful pain relief.
- alternative pain management treatments: Some examples may include relaxation, acupuncture, hypnosis, and biofeedback.
It may be necessary to try a few different pain management techniques to determine which is the best for you. Treating acute pain is the goal.
It is not recommend to “tough it out.” Take care of acute pain right away because it can become chronic later down the road. Take pain seriously. Don’t just shrug it off and expect it to go away by itself. Take action.
When does acute pain become chronic pain?
It is not absolutely clear why some people develop chronic pain but others do not. One patient may develop chronic pain, but another patient who has a similar condition will not develop chronic pain. The reasons are still unclear.
As acute pain advances into the chronic phase, the influence of other factors (in addition to tissue damage and injury) come into play. In such cases, the influences must be discussed and studied by your doctor in order to develop an effective pain management plan.
Ways to treat pain if it becomes chronic
If acute pain becomes chronic, your doctor will need to overcome some unique challenges.
It is very important to communicate your pain and symptoms with your doctor. The Spine Center of Southeast Georgia treats chronic pain by using a multidisciplinary approach.
Your treatment plan can include any of the following techniques:
- chiropractic care
- pain medications (non-addictive and addictive when necessary)
- surgery as a last resort
In order to be truly successful, chronic pain should address the whole person. This includes the treatment of mental health issues, when applicable, such as depression.
The specialists at The Spine Center of Southeast Georgia are dedicated to provide a multidisciplinary approach to relieve chronic, acute, and intractable pain. We are trained to determine the underlying root cause of pain and to treat it successfully.
What should you do now?
If you are suffering from acute pain or chronic pain, we can help. The first step is contacting one of our pain clinics located nearest to you.
Our pain management specialists will speak with you about your condition and symptoms to determine the best treatment options for you. So whether you are experiencing acute, chronic, or intractable pain, give us a call today to take advantage of our conservative pain care techniques.