Acute vs Chronic pain

Posted By Anna Pattison  
15:00 PM

What is acute pain? and what is chronic pain

Acute = sudden

Chronic = over time

Acute pain can become chronic pain and chronic pain can experience acute pain. If that sentence is a bit confusing, hopefully this blog will help clear things up for you. 

Acute pain is the initial onset of pain and inflammation that occurs as a result of trauma or injury. 

Injuries to different structures in our body require different healing times. One of the factors that contribute to the speed of healing time is blood flow. Skin has fantastic blood flow and therefore, tends to heal quicker than a disc injury, that has less blood flow directly into the structure. 

Skin = 1-6 weeks 
Muscle = grade 1: 1-4 weeks, grade 2: 3-12 weeks, grade 3: 1-6 months 
Ligament = grade 1: 2-8 weeks, grade 2: 2-6 months, grade 3: 6-12 months
Tendon = 3-7 weeks 
Fact joint = 2-4 weeks 
Disc = bulge: 3-6 months, herniation: 6-12 months  
Bone = 6 weeks - 12 months 

When injuries heal within their standard time, they are considered acute injuries. When an injury exceeds this time, we consider it to be chronic. Therefore, a chronic muscle injury looks different than a chronic disc injury. 

Factors that can contribute to an acute injury becoming chronic:

  • continuing to perform aggravating movements 
  • stretching/strengthening exercises 
  • previous injuries 
  • hydration 
  • surgery 
  • sleep 
  • exercise
  • blood flow/lymphatic drainage  
  • autoimmune conditions 
  • diabetes 
  • smoking 
  • alcohol consumption 
  • weight/nutrition/gut health
  • medication
  • age/gender 
  • stress