All You Need to Know About Chronic and Acute Pain

We all experience pain at some point in our lives but that pain can vary in severity and also how long it lasts. It is important to understand that there are different types of pain, including acute pain and chronic pain.

What is Acute Pain?

Acute pain is a type of pain that typically develops suddenly and is often intense in nature. It is a temporary sensation that is usually caused by tissue damage, injury or inflammation. It can manifest in various ways, such as sharp, stabbing, or shooting sensations, and it can be localised to a specific area of the body or more generalised.

When we feel this pain, it is our body’s way of telling us we need to withdraw from what caused the pain. However, while acute pain is typically short-lived, it can be extremely uncomfortable and distressing, and it can negatively impact your quality of life.

Fortunately, acute pain can often be effectively managed through various treatment methods, including pain-relieving medications, physical therapy and rest. Early treatment for acute pain is really important. If you act quickly it’s proven to benefit acute pain injuries.

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is a type of pain that can be incredibly frustrating and demoralising. It’s not like the sharp, sudden pain you feel from minor cuts or injuries – instead, it’s a persistent ache or discomfort that can linger for weeks, months or even years.

Chronic pain can be caused by a variety of factors, such as an injury that didn’t heal properly or an underlying health condition like arthritis or fibromyalgia. Regardless of the cause, chronic pain can make it difficult to enjoy life and feel like yourself. It can sap your energy, leave you feeling moody or irritable, and make it hard to do everyday things like cooking, cleaning or working.

The mechanisms for acute and chronic pain are different. All pain is perceived in the brain. Chronic pain is often less about the injured tissue and more to do with the brain firing off inappropriately. An analogy would be likened to a scratched record with the needle getting stuck and repeatedly going over the same part of the song. Chronic pain is often accompanied by chronic inflammation which is also an inappropriate response to tissue injury.

While chronic pain can be a challenging condition to live with, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone and there are resources available to help you cope and manage your symptoms.

What Causes Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain can have a variety of causes. It may result from an initial injury or trauma, such as a back strain or a fall, which triggers ongoing pain. Chronic pain can also be associated with an underlying medical condition, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia or nerve damage. In some cases, the cause of chronic pain is unclear and it may be related to complex interactions between physical, psychological and environmental factors.

Regardless of the cause, chronic pain can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life and requires careful management to help alleviate symptoms.

How Can an Osteopath Treat Chronic Pain?

Osteopathy is a holistic approach to healthcare that can be effective in treating chronic pain. Osteopaths focus on identifying and addressing the underlying causes of pain, rather than simply treating the symptoms. Osteopathic treatment typically involves manual techniques such as gentle joint manipulation, acupuncture, massage and stretching to help reduce tension and improve mobility in the affected areas.

Acupuncture and especially electro-acupuncture, works extremely well in dealing with chronic pain. Nerve cells have to reach a threshold before they fire off. For example, a sensory nerve has a very low threshold so that we can easily feel things. Pain nerves have a much higher threshold otherwise we would be in pain with daily activities. When we have chronic pain the threshold for the pain nerve has been lowered and the aim is to raise this threshold to a more functional state.

We will also take into account your overall health and lifestyle, providing advice on nutrition, exercise and stress management to support your body’s natural healing processes. By taking a whole-person approach, osteopathy aims to help individuals with chronic pain achieve greater comfort, mobility and overall well-being.

Osteopathy can be a valuable addition to a comprehensive pain management plan, and many individuals with chronic pain have found relief and improved quality of life through osteopathic treatment.

If you’re experiencing chronic pain, book an appointment with our Osteopath Teri. She’ll support you with a treatment plan to help manage and improve your symptoms. You can book online or call 020 8316 5316.