Category: Chronic Pain

Difference Between Acute & Chronic Pain

Pain is a common experience that we have all felt at some point in our lives – whether it is the result of an injury, surgery, or underlying health condition. But not all pain is created equal. For some people, pain can become a lingering presence in their lives, lasting for weeks, months, or even years. So, how do you tell if your pain is acute or chronic? Let’s find out.

What is Acute Pain?

Acute pain is the kind of pain that happens suddenly and typically lasts for a short period of time. In most cases, acute pain is not serious and will go away within a few days or weeks once the underlying cause has healed. For example, if you cut your finger while cooking, you would likely experience a sudden onset of sharp pain that will last a few days. But once the cut has healed, the pain should go away. 

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is pain that lasts for more than 12 weeks. It can be caused by injury or illness, but it often persists long after the underlying injury or illness has healed. For example, someone who breaks their leg may initially experience severe acute pain. But once the fracture has healed, they may continue to experience dull pain or severe discomfort at the site of the original injury.

In addition to injury, chronic pain may also be caused by long-term conditions like arthritis, cancer, fibromyalgia, nerve damage, endometriosis, migraines, and mental illness. According to medical statistics, an estimated 1 in 5 American adults live with chronic pain.

Examples of chronic pain include:

  • Pain from an old injury
  • Arthritis pain/joint pain
  • Cancer pain
  • Fibromyalgia pain
  • Chronic migraines
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Chronic back pain

Unlike acute pain, chronic pain is often a constant presence and can lead to severe impairment. Chronic pain is often accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Anger and irritability
  • Reduced productivity and loss of livelihood
  • Low sex drive
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Alcohol and substance abuse

Treatment for Acute VS Chronic Pain

Acute and chronic pain are treated differently because they have different causes. Acute pain is normally treated by addressing the underlying cause of the pain. Your doctor may also prescribe over-the-counter medication or prescription painkillers to keep the pain under control.

On the other hand, chronic pain is more difficult to treat because there is often no clear cause. Treatment typically aims to manage the pain and involves a combination of medication, physical therapy, self-care, and mental health support. Some people find relief from chronic pain through alternative therapies such as acupuncture or massage therapy. Others will require surgery to correct any underlying problems and provide relief from the pain.

The Takeaway

In a nutshell, the difference between acute and chronic pain is the duration of the pain. Acute pain is a normal response to an injury or illness and typically goes away within a few days or weeks. Chronic pain, on the other hand, persists for more months or years and can have a significant impact on your quality of life. 

If you’re experiencing chronic pain, it’s advisable to see a doctor who can diagnose the cause of your pain and develop a personalized treatment plan for you. 

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The Most Common Types Of Chronic Pain

You slipped and fell at work a few years back, severely breaking your leg. You underwent surgery for bone fracture repair, and although your leg healed and you can now walk, you’re stuck with a dull, aching pain at the site of the fracture.

The pain is always there, some days are better than others, but it never really goes away. Could you be dealing with chronic pain?

What is Chronic Pain?

There are two types of pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain comes on suddenly and is sharp. It may be caused by injury or illness and goes away once the underlying cause has healed. For instance, a headache caused by the common cold goes away as soon as the cold starts to subside. 

Chronic pain, on the other hand, is ongoing pain that lingers for weeks or months after the injury or illness has healed. It can result from injury, fracture, surgery, psychological trauma, or a chronic illness like cancer.

Medical statistics show that in the United States, over 1 in 5 adults struggle with a chronic pain problem. Chronic pain can be mild, moderate, or severe.

What Are the Most Common Types of Chronic Pain?

There are many different types of chronic pain, and each one affects people in different ways. Here are some of the most common types:

Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain is one of the most common types of chronic pain and a leading cause of disability worldwide. It can result from muscle strain, poor posture, herniated discs, and nerve damage, among other possible causes. 

Chronic back pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp, burning sensation. It can make it hard to work, sleep, and perform daily activities.

Neck Pain

Neck pain is one of the most reported musculoskeletal problems among patients. Research shows that approximately 50 percent of American adults experience neck pain yearly, some of whom end up developing chronic neck pain.

There are many possible causes of neck pain, including injury, arthritis, whiplash, herniated discs, overuse, migraines, cervical spondylosis, and nerve damage. The pain can range from mild discomfort to severe pain that hinders neck movement.

Joint Pain

Joint pain is another commonly diagnosed form of chronic pain – affecting millions globally. Chronic joint pain is mainly caused by arthritis but can also result from an injury, infection, or other conditions. Joint pain can make it difficult to move the affected joint and may lead to swelling, inflammation, and stiffness in the affected areas.


Chronic migraines can be described as recurrent severe headaches that cause intense throbbing or pulsing pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. Chronic migraines affect between 3 to 5 percent of Americans, according to the experts at the Cleveland Clinic.

Several factors can trigger the onset of migraines, including stress, certain foods, hormonal fluctuations, weather changes, mental illness, nerve damage, untreated neck pain, or injury to the head.

Arthritis Pain

Arthritis is a term used to describe a group of over 100 chronic conditions that attack the joints, causing inflammation, nerve damage, and tissue degeneration around the joints. Arthritis can lead to ongoing joint pain, stiffness, and swelling and is one of the leading causes of chronic pain.

Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain, as the name suggests, is any pain caused by damage or malfunction of the nervous system. It can result from nerve damage due to injury, infection, or diseases that affect the nervous system. 

Neuropathic pain often feels like a burning or stabbing sensation and can make it difficult to sleep, concentrate, and perform daily activities. Common examples of neuropathic pain include fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia, phantom limb pain, and complex regional pain syndrome.

How is Chronic Pain Treated?

The treatment options for chronic pain vary depending on the type of pain and its underlying causes. In most cases, chronic pain can be effectively managed using over-the-counter or prescription medications.

In more severe cases,  treatments such as surgery and nerve block injections, may be necessary. Ketamine infusion therapy is also proving to be a go-to medication for chronic and treatment-resistant pain.

If you struggle with chronic pain, talk to your doctor about your treatment options. Together, you can develop a treatment plan to help you manage your pain and improve your quality of life.

What Not to Say to Someone with Chronic Pain

Pain isn’t funny. Whether it’s physical or psychological, short-term or chronic pain exacts a heavy price and can strike at any time. If you’ve ever experienced chronic pain before, you know how difficult it is to handle, but if you’ve never had it, how do you know what to say to someone who deals with pain every day?

What Is Chronic Pain?

Everyone perceives pain differently, but it normally starts with pain receptors beneath the skin and in organs scattered throughout the body. Sickness, injury, or other kinds of problems make the receptors transmit signals to the spinal cord – which then relays them to the brain for recognition and processing.

Pain can be temporary, mild, severe, and go away on its own or after treatment. But if the pain lingers for months at a time, and you don’t get better with medicine or treatment, then you may be experiencing chronic pain. In some cases, the source of the pain is unknown.

How Many People Have It?

Millions of people regardless of gender or age experience chronic pain. Some research estimates the number is between 11 and 40%, but a report from 2019 cited by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it affects about 20% of all adults. Other highlights worth mentioning:

  • Chronic pain gets worse as you age.
  • Non-Hispanic white adults get it most often.
  • People who live in rural areas get chronic pain more often.

What Causes Chronic Pain?

Sometimes chronic pain has an obvious cause. It could be triggered by arthritis or cancer, or injuries and diseases resulting in bodily changes which leave you more susceptible to pain. These changes may last for months or years, long after an injury or illness has been treated successfully. 

But chronic pain can be psychogenic pain, or pain that isn’t related to an injury or physical illness. It’s driven by psychological factors like anxiety, depression, and stress. 

What Not to Say to Someone with Chronic Pain

Sometimes we have the best intention and want to help others as much as we can. But in the process of helping, we fumble over the words or say the wrong thing, unable to verbalize what our mind wants us to articulate. There are definitely things you shouldn’t say to someone with chronic pain, such as:

  • “You’re in pain? Funny, you don’t look hurt (or injured) at all.”
  • “I noticed you’ve been hobbling around at work. Dude, you’re too young to be in pain.”
  • “Listen, everyone gets tired, and sometimes that makes pain seem worse than it is, so sleep it off.”
  • “Eh, you’re just having a bad day.”
  • “Pain? It’s all in your mind.”
  • “Suck it up.”
  • “Wow, now you’ve got an excuse for not going to work (or school) today. I’m so envious.”
  • “You know what? My arms hurt for months because of repetitive stress movements, but my therapist told me to exercise, and guess what? No more pain. You should try that.”
  • “Sure, I know you’re in pain, but there’s always someone who’s got it worse and you’re mostly healthy, right?”
  • “Does this mean we’re not going to the concert Friday night?”
  • “I really don’t know what’s going on, but I hope you feel better soon! I’m picking up your slack at work.”
  • “Ok, how about if you try this? I saw it on a podcast.”
  • “Listen, I’ve heard some old people say they will away their pain. You know, mind over matter and all that.”
  • “I don’t know. When I was in pain a lot, my dietician told me to lose 7% body weight and now I feel like a million bucks.”
  • “Maybe you need to sleep more.”
  • “How about getting a new pillow or mattress?”
  • “I know what you’re going through.”

To communicate with someone with chronic pain, you need to be engaged, compassionate, and listen to what they’re telling you. You might suggest different kinds of treatment or seeing a different doctor, but the conversation is always about the other person.

Diagnosis & Treatment

There are no specific tests to diagnose chronic pain, but a healthcare provider is the best person to see when discomfort begins affecting your quality of life. A medical or psychological examination may reveal the source of your pain and how to treat it, but much of the diagnosis is based on pain symptoms, where they happen, and how often. Chronic pain can often be treated with therapy, pain relievers, or medicine like ketamine.

Details Of Chronic Pain Management

You broke your ankle years ago and seemed to recover nicely. You’ve had no intervening accidents and illnesses that you can recall, but you’ve been experiencing non-specific discomfort for several months. Your lower back and knees hurt, often most of the day, every day. You may be experiencing chronic pain.


One online resource identifies two kinds of pain: “acute and chronic. Acute pain lets you know that your body is injured. It usually doesn’t last long. It should go away as your body heals. Chronic pain lasts much longer. Chronic pain may last months or even years. Chronic pain may interfere with your daily activities. And because the pain lasts so long, people who have chronic pain may also have low self-esteem, depression, and anger.”


Chronic pain affects your physical and mental wellness. While it can be nearly perpetual, pain may be more significant sometimes due to greater stress or activity. Symptoms include:

  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Searing pain
  • Tiredness
  • Sleep trouble
  • Loss of strength and flexibility, lower activity
  • Moodiness (depression, anxiety, irritability, etc.)

The journal Pain reported that nearly 61 percent of the people who reported chronic pain as part of the study also had depression, most with “severe” level symptoms.


Sometimes, chronic pain is the result of an old injury or infection or may be caused by a disease. Despite the best efforts of doctors, researchers, and other medical or mental health specialists, sometimes there is no identifiable trigger for your pain.

Conditions that may trigger or lead to chronic pain:

  • Infections
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Back pain
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Nerve damage
  • Previous surgery

Depression and stress can worsen different pain types, including chronic pain.


If you have long-term pain and want to treat it on your own, here are some strategies to consider.

  • Learn to manage your stress levels and identify the triggers.
  • Stay active and engaged. Sometimes the best cure is distracting yourself, often through hobbies or interacting with family and friends.
  • Find a support network outside your family or friends. A peer group of people with chronic pain can offer the emotional support lacking elsewhere.


Chronic pain management is complicated and time-intensive. It can be especially challenging and demanding for medical professionals who may be working to help relieve your pain without assistance from other specialists. You can then imagine how hard it is for the patient to relieve their own symptoms, often working alone and dealing with other complications from the condition.

The usefulness of many kinds of interventions is enhanced when all medical and mental healthcare specialists concerned work together as a team. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a multiskilled collaborative strategy offers a range of viewpoints and talents that can improve outcomes and lower stress on individual providers working diligently on a patient’s behalf. One of chronic pain management challenges is for multidisciplinary teams to find solutions while not becoming stressed themselves.

Ideally, a multidisciplinary team works in one setting, making it easier to collaborate with peers – not to mention for the patient who may have to go from one specialist to another. Such collective effort benefits if one specialist is identified as the primary care coordinator (this may also depend on whether you’re receiving treatment via public or private health insurance or are paying out of pocket for treatment) and all interested parties – the patient and specialists – have a good rapport.

Chronic pain management may include a primary care provider, addiction specialist, pain clinician, nurse, pharmacist, mental health specialists, other specialists (social worker, marriage and family therapist, counselor, etc.), and physical or occupational therapists.


A medical professional can diagnose your chronic pain and recommend treatment. You’ll probably have a physical exam and different tests to figure out the source of your pain, like blood tests, muscle and bone density tests, an x-ray or MRI, and other procedures as needed. Depending on the outcome of these exams, your healthcare provider may offer treatment like physical or occupational therapy, pain medicine, or something else. Successful diagnosis may also depend on a psychiatric assessment. A mental health specialist will review your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and personal and family history of mental illness as triggers for chronic pain.


Most people who suffer from chronic pain symptoms come to the realization they can’t treat it on their own. Store-bought pain medicine or a dip in a hot tub only go so far. Contact us today to learn more about innovative new treatments to help you find relief.

can depression cause chronic pain

The Connection Between Depression And Pain

You get depressed occasionally and often notice you have headaches and minor back pain to go along with it. So it makes you wonder – are they related? Chances are very high that pain and depression are linked, but the more you know, the greater your chance of treating both conditions.

What Is Depression?

Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.” It triggers feelings of sadness and lack of interest in once enjoyable activities. Depression is characterized by emotional and physical problems, to the point where it interferes with daily life.

Types Of Pain

The five most familiar kinds of pain are:

  • Acute pain, which only lasts minutes to about three months – and in rare cases, six months.
  • Chronic pain can be steady or intermittent, persisting for months or years.
  • Neuropathic pain is caused by nerve injury or injuries to the nervous system.
  • Nociceptive pain is triggered by harm to body tissue.
  • Radicular pain happens when your spinal nerves get squeezed or inflamed.

Most pain symptoms are treatable.

Depression Risks

You can be depressed at any age, but it often starts in adulthood. We know that depression can now happen in children and adolescents, though it’s sometimes characterized by irritability more than low feelings. If you had high levels of anxiety as a child, you’re at greater risk of chronic mood and anxiety disorders as an adult.

Risks may include:

  •     Personal or family record of depression
  •     Big life changes, trauma, or stress
  •     Certain illnesses and medications

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine, pain and depression have a long, interconnected history dating back to the early 1960s. At that time, the medicine was used solely as a pre-surgical anesthetic – gaining fame for treating wounded U.S. combat troops in Vietnam – before scientists discovered it had other curative applications. By the end of the decade, ketamine had become a sought-after option for reducing not only symptoms of physical pain but mental health issues that wouldn’t respond to conventional therapy.

The Connection Between Depression And Pain

Pain and depression are inextricably linked. Depression can trigger pain and pain can lead to depression, resulting in a vicious circle that is hard to break free of. Sometimes the circle makes the pain worsen the symptoms of depression, leading to depression, making feelings of pain even worse. For many people, depression results in unexplained physical symptoms like back pain or headaches. This is often the kind of pain that is the first or sole warning sign of depression. 

If you experience pain and its resultant problems, then you know it can beat you down over time and alter your mood. Chronic pain is likely worse, causing many problems that can trigger depression, such as problems sleeping and ongoing stress.

According to study results published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, “pain and depression are closely correlated from the perspectives of both brain regions and the neurological function system, whereby chronic pain may lead to depression. One of the important causes for chronic pain leading to depression appears to be the crucial effect of common neuroplasticity changes on the occurrence and development of the two disorders in question. Nevertheless, current efforts in this field fail to sufficiently and explicitly explain their connection. Further investigations into the common neuroplasticity changes shared by pain and depression are warranted to promote the identification of new drug targets and to free patients from chronic pain-induced depression.”

Fortunately, many symptoms linked to mental illness (depression, bipolar disorder, etc.) and chronic pain conditions can be managed.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosing pain and depression normally depends on:

  • A physical examination to rule out a medical cause for your pain or depression symptoms.
  • A psychiatric assessment to understand your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and personal or family history of mental illness.

If your symptoms have a psychological component, your healthcare provider will compare them to criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders before recommending treatment.

Treatment may include pain medicine, psychotherapy, or ketamine infusion therapy.

Final Thoughts

If you suffer from ongoing pain or depression, don’t let the symptoms control your life. If ignored, pain and depression can lead to even worse physical and mental health conditions. The good news? Once symptoms are recognized, they can often be treated with ketamine to improve your quality of life. Contact us today to learn more.


What Does it Feel Like to Have Chronic Pain?

You banged your knee on the corner of the kitchen table, but the pain went away, eventually. That was acute pain, specific and with a known cause. But what about your lower back pain that’s haunted you for years? What caused it? These are the enduring mysteries of chronic pain.

What is Chronic Pain?

Pain is different for everyone, but there are two kinds of physical pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain signals that your body is injured. It normally doesn’t last long and should subside as your body heals. Chronic pain is continual and may last months or even years. “Chronic pain may interfere with your daily activities. And because the pain lasts so long, people who have chronic pain may also have low self-esteem, depression, and anger.”

The Symptoms of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain symptoms include moderate to severe pain that does not subside as expected following an illness or injury. It has been described as aching, burning, electrical, or shooting. You may experience soreness, tightness, or stiffness in the impacted area of your body. While chronic pain symptoms and their physical and psychological effects can be daunting, research has proven the efficacy of certain new treatments, including the regular, ongoing use of ketamine therapy.

What Causes Chronic Pain?

Occasionally chronic pain has a clear cause. You could have a long-term illness such as cancer or arthritis that can trigger ongoing pain. But diseases and injuries can also produce changes to the body that instill a higher pain sensitivity. These differences can remain in place even when you’ve healed from the original disease or injury. So, an injury like a sprain, broken bone, or a short-term infection can leave you experiencing chronic pain.

Some people also experience chronic pain unrelated to a physical illness or an injury. Healthcare providers deem this reaction psychosomatic pain or psychogenic pain.

What Does it Feel Like to Have Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is real and different for everyone it touches. Some people plow through the pain, determined to get out of bed every morning and do what needs to be done – go to work, get the kids ready for school, volunteer at the local food bank. Unfortunately, the pain is so uncomfortable and pervasive for some people that it’s eaten away at their resolve and eventually controls their lives.

If you or someone you know suffers from chronic pain, you know the emotions and reactions it stirs up too well. Chronic pain is inexplicably linked to what goes on in the brain and triggers reactions throughout your body and mind you may not be prepared to handle.

Kristen Domonell has a unique perspective on what chronic pain feels like, noting that “getting up in the morning is no joke.” She also relayed the presence of odd or bad dreams, often of little things in her life which you may be able to relate to, like seams in an article of clothing.

In a post vetted by Dr. Sarah Jarvis MBE, author Sarah Graham relayed the feelings that many people experience due to chronic pain. One person described the pain as “bolts of electricity” through their bones. Another mentioned that chronic pain resulted in insensitivity to the point where their skin felt on fire.

Managing symptoms and the feelings they cause is a matter of determination and resolve to live as normal of a life as possible.


Your doctor will inquire about your medical history, and providing as much information as possible will assist in finding the right treatment. Be honest about where the pain is, its severity, and frequency. Also, describe what makes it better or worse. Your doctor will perform an exam and do tests to help find the cause. Other health problems will be discussed – as well as anxiety, mood, sleep patterns – which could influence treatment options.

Tips for Managing Chronic Pain

If you suffer from chronic pain, talk to a doctor about treatment options. There are other ways to cope with the pain on your own, however, including: 

  • Stretching exercises
  • Practicing good posture
  • Yoga
  • Staying active and maintaining a daily routine
  • Reduce stress with relaxation techniques
  • Don’t do more than you can handle
  • Take care of other mental or medical conditions
  • Stay positive
  • Stay engaged with others

Chronic pain, while serious, can be managed with novel medications like ketamine. 

Final Thoughts

Chronic pain affects all aspects of your life. The most effective treatment relieves symptoms and offers support. You may be able to manage the pain at home with store-bought pain relievers, but the pain could require therapy, prescription medication, or even surgery. One treatment worth learning about is ketamine therapy. Contact us today to learn more!

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