a couple of years ago

Chronic vs Acute Pain - Which Type Do You Have?

​It's vital that you can distinguish between chronic and acute pain as both require different forms of treatment. So find out how to do that here. 

chronic vs acute pain

Do you think you might have chronic lower back pain? 

If your pain has been hanging around for a while then you may well be right. 

However there's also a chance that you don't. 

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

Of course it does, that's why you're here. ​

​But it's important to distinguish whether your back pain is actually chronic or just acute.

Because if you assume you have chronic pain. 

And 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 Do I Need To Know Which Type Of Pain I Have?

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

So 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 the advice on this website is solely for managing chronic lower back pain.

So it's vitally important that ​before reading through the advice on this site that you make sure that the pain you are suffering from is chronic and not acute.

What Is Acute Pain?

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

This pain lasts for 6 weeks or less and in most cases occurs as a result of doing something wrong.

Things like putting your back out on the job because you've been lifting heavy loads the wrong way.

And if any of you have ever suffered from this type of injury you'll know the excruciating pain that follows.

It's so bad that it can completely immobilise you.

And every movement or twinge sends thunderbolts of pain through your body.​

However with some rest and treatment it will clear up.

And after that you can go back to work as good as new.

Although I'm guessing a lot more wary of lifting heavy loads with a poor lifting technique!​

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 using the wrong lifting technique, 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.

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?

chronic back pain

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

And usually it's pain that isn't brought on by any specific event or accident.​

In fact you may never be able to pinpoint what caused it or why it remains.

It's just there.​

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

As chronic pain 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 at work and places limits on what you believe you are capable of.

Which for physical workers has the knock-on effect of threatening our ability to continue earning and supporting ourselves and our families.

And this can cause 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 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 if your symptoms have been there for longer than 3 months.

Then you are in the right place.

Because your pain is chronic.

And throughout this site I will try and give you the information to help you to fight it.

Chronic Pain Isn't Just Physical

mindfulness back pain

Chronic pain is confusing.

Firstly you may never know where it originates from.

And once it has gripped you it's hard to understand why it doesn’t heal.

This question is difficult to answer.

And by focusing solely on the body you can miss the point.

As only acute pain can be linked directly to damage to the physical body.

It hurts, it heals, then life gets back to normal.

Chronic pain however is different.

Because while the pain is felt in your body it is also influenced greatly by how you think about it and what is happening around you.

These three things are all connected.

But how can that work?

"Surely physical pain is just a sign that my body is hurting. What does what I’m thinking have to do with it? Or what I’m doing?"

Well quite a lot as it turns out.

Because being anxious and worrying about your pain can make it worse.

Now look I'm not saying your pain isn't real.

I know it is myself only too well.

And in no way am I insinuating that dreaded phrase "It’s all in your head"!

However what goes in in your head has a massive effect on your chronic pain experience.

For instance, by expecting things to hurt and expecting things to be a struggle guess what?

They will be!

Your thoughts are powerful.

So by expecting pain and putting limits on yourself you are giving your pain the power to rule over you.

Don’t give it that power.

Adopting a positive attitude on the other hand is key when it comes to managing your chronic pain.

As it changes how you think about the pain.

And it helps you to stay active and fight back against it.

Saying yes to activities you enjoy rather than passing them up because you are afraid your back will hurt afterwards.

And welcoming support from family and friends rather than pushing them away.

All this will help you to lessen the pain you feel every day.

Positivity is so powerful.

positive thinking

And throughout this site I will give advice on how you can achieve this kind of positive mindset in spite of being in pain.

So make sure you try to adopt this type of thinking too as it really does make a huge difference.​

How Common Is Chronic Back Pain For Manual Workers?

Chronic pain can be an isolating illness.

And it can feel like you're the only one suffering.

But that’s really not true.

Because back pain affects one-third of the adult population in some way each year.

And it is estimated that in the UK alone 2.5 million people suffer with back pain every day.

That’s 2.5 million people out of a population of 64 million that are living with chronic back pain.

Nearly 4% which is an incredible figure.

It's so common that official government figures of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in Great Britain in 2015 found that back pain was the second highest reason for taking sick days from work after the common cold.

But here’s the thing.

People like you and I are most at risk!

Because physically active workers get the hardest time of it with back pain.

For example it was found that the industries with the highest rates of workers suffering from chronic back pain were construction and agriculture.

As years of repetitive tasks, hard graft and heavy lifting take their toll.

In fact there were more than twice as many people suffering from chronic back pain in skilled trades in the construction industry than the average over ALL other industries.

Twice as many! That’s pretty damning right?

And suffering from chronic pain only makes it harder for you to continue to work.

Which if you’re self-employed like me is a huge problem.

Because no work = no money.

Therefore if improved quality of life alone isn’t enough to motivate you to learn how to manage your back pain do it for the cash!

On a more serious note though managing your pain will greatly improve not just your quality of life but your whole working experience as well.

It will also make you more capable of continuing to work.

And the importance of work in someone’s life cannot be underestimated.

Not just for the financial security and independence it brings but also for the sense of purpose and value that it gives you.

As we identify ourselves through what we do for a living.

And taking that away can lead to a loss of self and mental and emotional difficulties.

So work isn't just important financially.

It’s important for your self-esteem too.

Which means that managing your pain is vital if you are going to have the quality of life that you want.

How Can I Manage My 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 pain.

These include:​

  • Why you need to stay active.
  • How exercise and movement can keep your back strong, supported and flexible.
  • How to relax and ease muscle tension.
  • Staying on top of your emotional responses to being pain.
  • The power of positive thinking in managing chronic pain.
  • Why it's vital that you get a good night's sleep.
  • The importantance of having a good support network of family and friends.
  • Which are the best products on the market to help you with your back pain.
  • The causes of back pain that you need to avoid.
  • And much, much more.

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

And if you have any thoughts or queries feel free to email me at dan@backonsite.com.​

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I'm a Painter and Decorator, psychology graduate, and veteran of 5 spinal surgeries. I want to help my fellow construction workers to fight back against persistent back pain like I have.

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