When Can Acute Pain Become Chronic?

When Can Acute Pain Become Chronic?

Published: January 24, 2020

Acute pain often comes on suddenly, has a specific cause, and usually does not last longer than three months. But did you know that acute pain can turn into chronic pain? If you’re suffering from acute pain and are wondering, “When can acute pain become chronic?” or “What is chronic pain?” then our Texas pain specialists are here to help. 

Our pain management specialists at the San Antonio offices of Dr. Raul Martinez have compiled an overview of the differences between acute and chronic pain, as well as an explanation of how acute pain can become chronic. Read on to learn more from our pain management experts.

What is Acute Pain, And What Causes It?

Acute pain is a broad term referring to any pain that begins suddenly and resolves itself within three months. There are many different kinds of acute pain, which can affect any part of the body. Acute pain can be caused by injury, surgery, or illness. In most cases, when the injury that caused the acute pain heals, symptoms will subside. It is often more sharp and severe than chronic pain, although this is not always the case.

What is Chronic Pain, And When Does Acute Pain Transition to Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts several months or longer. This type of pain can significantly interfere with a person’s participation in day to day activities and can also be detrimental to physical and emotional wellbeing. In some instances, acute pain can become chronic pain. 

Some examples of acute pain that can turn into chronic pain include:

  • Migraines
  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Pain caused by cancer 
  • Neuropathic pain 

Sometimes, the pain becomes chronic because the underlying cause is ongoing and unresolved (as in cases involving arthritis or cancer pain). Other times, the reason for the continuing pain is unclear—although it should be noted that the lack of a clear cause does not make the pain any less real.

Chronic pain is often difficult to treat, and sometimes it can be untreatable. But even patients who cannot permanently eliminate their pain can still find treatments that minimize pain symptoms significantly.

How is Chronic Pain Treated?

There are many different treatment options for chronic pain sufferers. Medications, topical treatments, injections, surgeries, physical therapy, and alternative modalities are just a few of the options available to treat chronic pain. Typically, doctors will begin by recommending less-invasive procedures before trying more invasive options like surgery. 

The good news is that patients today can choose from a wide variety of treatment options, and today’s doctors are more aware than ever before of conditions associated with chronic pain.

Looking for an Expert Pain Management Specialist? Dr. Raul Martinez is Here to Help

If you are suffering from either acute or chronic pain, our Texas pain specialists in San Antonio want to help. We believe that although pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. We offer both surgical and non-surgical treatment options, and we will customize a treatment plan based on your unique conditions and needs. Even if past treatments have not helped, we are determined to find a treatment that will alleviate your symptoms, because we believe in helping each of our patients achieve the best possible quality of life.

Our specialists are double board-certified in both pain management and pain medicine, and we utilize the most effective therapies and treatment methods available today. We’ve helped hundreds of patients suffering from chronic pain, and we want to help you find relief. To schedule an appointment with one of our expert physicians, fill out our patient forms or give us a call today.



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