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We explain the difference between ACUTE PAIN and CHRONIC PAIN

  • 2 min read

 

What is pain? It’s a common question asked in today’s society. According to Pain Australia1, 3.24 million Australians are living with chronic pain in 2018. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) says, “Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience.” It has also been described as “Pain is whatever the experiencing person says it is.” 2 Chronic pain includes conditions such as Osteoarthritis, lower back pain, neck pain, migraines and headaches.

The total financial cost of chronic pain in Australia in 2018 was estimated to be $139.3 billion

There are two overarching types of pain a person can experience; acute pain and chronic pain

Acute Pain

Acute pain is pain that is experienced in the body for less than twelve weeks or three months. Acute pain occurs due to a direct cause or stimulus. We’ll use the example of a stubbed toe. When you stub your toe and you get that immediate sense of pain; that is called acute pain. Pain can be thought of as a smoke alarm. A smoke alarm will detect smoke, potentially indicating a fire. However, a smoke alarm will not detect a fire. Pain works in the same way. The body will detect the painful stimulus (ie. Stubbing your toe) that may cause damage to the tissue. However it does not indicate tissue damage. Bear with us with the stubbed toe analogy because it will also come into play for chronic pain

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is pain that is experienced in the body for three months or greater. For the general healthy population, the tissues in our body (muscle, tendon, bone etc.) are expected to heal within three months. If pain persists beyond three months, it indicates other potential causes. One cause is the body becoming hypersensitive to pain in that region. Coming back to the smoke alarm analogy, the smoke alarm has become faulty. It has become hypersensitive to detecting smoke without any danger of a fire occurring. A similar phenomenon occurs within the body.

Now, coming back to the stubbed toe analogy. As mentioned previously:

  • Acute pain is stubbing your toe and the pain felt afterwards. There may be some bruising and swelling associated. This pain should not last longer than twelve weeks as healing will occur and the pain should subside
  • Chronic pain persists for twelve weeks or greater. The body becomes hyper-sensitive to any stimulus over the stubbed toe. Putting a sock on may potentially cause that same feeling of pain as stubbing your toe

How Does this Hypersensitivity Occur?

The nerves in the body communicate from the site of the pain through your spinal cord and up to your brain. You may become sensitised either at the site of pain (peripherally) or in the spinal cord and brain (centrally).

How does ANH Products Help Alleviate Pain?

ANH products block one of the receptors responsible for this pain hyper-sensitivity, reducing the amount of times the faulty ‘smoke alarm’ goes off. Thus, this ultimately reduces the amount of pain experienced for people living with chronic pain.

(1)https://www.painaustralia.org.au/about-pain/painful-facts

(2)McCaffery M, Pasero C. Pain: A Clinical Manual. 2nd ed. St. Louis: Mosby, Inc.; 1999.

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