Chronic vs Acute Pain – Which Type Are You Suffering From?

It's vital that you can distinguish between chronic and acute pain, as both require a different type of treatment.

Chronic vs acute pain

Do you think your back pain is chronic?

Well if your pain has been hanging around for a long time then the chances are you may be right. 

However, there's also a chance that it's not. 

Now I'm not saying your back doesn't hurt. 

Of course it does, that's why you're here on this site and searching the web for answers. 

But in terms of pain management it's important to distinguish whether your back pain is the chronic kind or if it's actually acute pain.

Because if you assume you have chronic pain, set out to treat it as chronic pain, but it turns out to be acute pain instead.

Then you could end up doing yourself more harm than good.

Read on and I'll explain why.

Why You Need To Know Which Type Of Pain You Have

The reason it's so important make a distinction between acute and chronic pain is that they need to be treated and cared for in completely different ways.

As the methods that help people suffering from acute back pain are very different from what you need to do to manage your chronic back pain.

And if you use the wrong type of treatment for the wrong type of pain, then you're only making things worse.

So make sure you know which type you are suffering from before having a look around my site.

Because the advice on this website is focused on helping people to manage and get rid of persistent, chronic back pain.

So if you have a bout of acute back pain you may need to look for pain management solutions elsewhere.

Although you can find information here that will help you to prevent these periods of acute back pain from happening in the first place.

What Is Acute Pain?

What is acute pain?

Acute pain is temporary pain that usually has a specific cause.

So this is the type of pain you get from a specific injury or accident.

Things like putting your back out while lifting heavy items or while shoveling and digging in the garden.

And those of you that have suffered from this type of injury will know just how excruciating the pain is that follows.

This pain usually lasts for up to 6 weeks and can be pinpointed as a result of doing something wrong.

However, with some rest and treatment it will clear up and after that you can go back to your daily life and routines as good as new.

This is acute pain and believe it or not it’s helpful.

As it tells you that you are doing something wrong.

Whether that be by lifting with a poor technique, having a bad posture, sitting in the wrong position for too long, or over-doing things.

And by listening to these warnings and adjusting your behaviours you can prevent it from re-occurring.

How To Treat Acute Pain

Best mattress for back pain

Acute back pain is usually caused by a fresh injury or accident.

As such it causes swelling and inflammation within your back that causes you lots of initial pain and discomfort.

And unlike chronic pain where you need to stay active, acute pain requires you to rest and allow your body to heal first.

So when treating it try to do the following:

  • Have an initial period of rest after the pain occurs to allow things to settle down, usually between 24-72 hours.
  • You may want to use painkillers during this time to reduce pain and inflammation (check with your doctor first).
  • Applying ice to the area of your injury can also help to reduce swelling and inflammation during this period.
  • After this inflammation has gone down you need to begin to get active again, starting gently with things such as walking and stretching.
  • Also applying heat to your back with heat lamps or by simply taking a bath can help to loosen your muscles up and relax you (but make sure all inflammation and swelling has gone beforehand).
  • Build your activity up until the pain goes and you can get back to your normal daily routine again.

However, chronic pain is a whole different story.

And as such it needs to be treated in a completely different way. 

What Is Chronic Pain?

What Is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is defined as pain that you’ve had for more than 3 months.

And usually it's pain that isn't caused by any specific injury or event.

In fact, you may never be able to pinpoint what caused it, why it started, and why it remains.

It's just there.​

But unlike acute pain IT’S MOST CERTAINLY NOT HELPFUL!

Because chronic pain tricks your brain into thinking you are in imminent danger and keeps you in a state of fight or flight.

Which can lead to a multitude of other problems.

For instance, the constant pain every day can leave you feeling fragile and vulnerable, which can make you afraid of taking on physical tasks and activities.

This makes you less active, less productive, and places limits on what you believe you are capable of.

Which is bad news for your back and overall health, as living a sedentary lifestyle is a major cause of back pain.

Chronic pain can also cause you anxiety and stress, which alongside the pain can make it difficult to sleep.

And a lack of sleep can increase your pain levels and darken your mood further, leaving you feeling even more frustrated and angry.

You might then take this frustration out on your loved ones which puts a strain on your relationships.

​And this can result in them withdrawing the love and support that is absolutely vital for you to be able to manage your chronic pain.

Chronic pain can also impact on your lifestyle and personality.​

As you may find yourself unable to continue living the life you want to live or be the person you once were.

So in short chronic pain can completely take over your life.

And the really bad news is that unlike acute pain it isn't going to heal and disappear any time soon.

So if this sounds familiar to you and your symptoms have been there for longer than 3 months then you're in the right place.

Because your pain is chronic.

And throughout this site I will try and give you the information and advice you need to help you to fight it, manage it, and hopefully get rid of it.

How You Can Manage Your Chronic Pain

How to treat chronic pain

The good news is that you’re in the right place to discover the answer to that question.

As this website is full of information on the various ways that you can fight back against your chronic back pain.

These include:

It’s all here.

And by learning about your pain and taking action you can minimise it's effects and continue to live the life you want to live.​

So I hope you enjoy this site and find the things that help you to develop a lifestyle that leads to a happier and healthier future with less pain.

We also asked 53 back pain experts for their advice on how to beat it which you can check out here.

Share here!


I'm a psychology graduate and a veteran of 5 spinal surgeries. I want to help people learn how to fight back against persistent back pain just like I have.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Leave a Reply: