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Defining Pain

Pain is a natural response to harmful stimuli that helps the body protect and heal itself. It is a complex experience having both physical as well as psychological aspects.

Acute pain is pain that lasts less than 3-6 months. It is usually related to injury or tissue damage. Examples of acute pain include sports injuries, fractures, burns, labor pains, and pain during dental treatment. It may be described as stinging, sharp, stabbing, cramping, aching or dull, and may be associated with tingling or numbness. Only some types of acute pain will turn into chronic pain.

Chronic pain lasts longer than 6 months. Common examples include: arthritis pain, cancer pain and pain resulting from nerve damage. It may be associated with limited mobility, loss of function, headaches, muscle tension, changes in diet and appetite, depression, anxiety and anger. Chronic pain can take the fun out of life and make it difficult to perform routine activities.

Acute pain can sometimes turn chronic and lead to disability. Not all pain turns chronic, but it is important to address issues related to pain before they become complicated and difficult to manage.