Pain is a sign that something has happened, that something is wrong. Acute pain happens quickly and goes away when there is no cause, but chronic pain lasts longer than six months and can continue when the injury or illness has been treated.
Pain occurs when something hurts, causing an uncomfortable or unpleasant feeling. The presence of pain often means that something is wrong. The best judge of your pain is you.
Acute pain usually comes on suddenly and is caused by something specific. It is sharp in quality. Acute pain usually doesn’t last longer than six months. It goes away when there is no longer an underlying cause for the pain. Causes of acute pain include:
After acute pain goes away, you can go on with life as usual.
Chronic pain is pain that is ongoing and usually lasts longer than six months. This type of pain can continue even after the injury or illness that caused it has healed or gone away. Pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months or years. Some people suffer chronic pain even when there is no past injury or apparent body damage. Chronic pain is linked to conditions that include:
If you have chronic pain, the stress affects the body, producing physical conditions like:
Chronic pain also causes emotional effects, including:
Your healthcare provider will work with you to find safe and effective pain relief.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/08/2020.
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