What is the difference between acute pain and chronic pain?

Acute pain is pain of a short, limited duration, usually the result of an injury, surgery or medical illness. Acute pain often goes away with the healing process.

Chronic pain continues for longer periods of time, sometimes even despite the healing of the original injury. Treatments for acute and chronic pain are often quite different.

What are some treatments for my pain?

Due to the rapid advances of modern medicine, there are now many varied treatments available for pain. The degree of pain varies from person to person, so your treatment plan will be tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. Treatment may include a single approach or a combination of medications, therapies and procedures, such as:

Medications

Pain killers
Narcotic pain killers are often used to treat acute, chronic �pain or cancer pain.�

Anti-inflammatory drugs
Aspirin-like drugs are the most commonly used medications of this type. They not only reduce swelling and irritation but also can relieve pain.

Antidepressants
Originally used only to treat depression, studies have shown that these medications can alleviate pain in certain situations. Furthermore, they may have the added benefit of helping the patient to sleep at night.

Anti-seizure medicines
These medicines may help relieve certain types of pain by reducing abnormal electrical discharges in damaged nerves.

Other medicines
Your physician may prescribe other types of medicine that are more specific to the type of pain you are experiencing.

Injection Treatments
Local anesthetics, with or without cortisone-like medicines, can be injected around nerves or into joints. These may act to reduce swelling, irritation, muscle spasms or abnormal nerve transmissions that can cause pain.

Electrical Stimulation
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is the most common form of electrical stimulation. It is not painful and does not require needles. TENS consists of a small, battery-operated device that can stimulate nerve fibers through the skin to diminish pain. Also, electrical stimulation of acupuncture points is sometimes performed.

Physical Therapy
Exercise, whirlpool, ultrasound, massage and manipulation are some of the treatments that a physical therapist may provide for you.

Relaxation
Training in biofeedback or other forms of relaxation therapy are often used to relieve pain, reduce muscle spasm and diminish stress.

Surgery
When necessary, surgical treatment may be recommended.

Are there psychological effects of chronic pain?

Yes, chronic pain may produce feelings of anger, sadness, hopelessness and even despair. In addition, it can alter one's personality, disrupt sleep, interfere with work and relationships and even have a profound effect on other family members.

However, there is help. A comprehensive pain treatment program, including psychological support, may be what is needed to manage chronic pain.

What types of pain problems can be addressed by pain management?

Problems commonly treated in pain management centers include low back pain, cancer pain, shingles, sympathetic dystrophy, nerve problems, headaches and arthritis.