The main criterion for the division of pain into acute (which will be devoted to this article) and the duration is long. It is recognized that pain lasting up to three months is acute pain, and one that lasts longer is already a chronic pain. Another criterion for the division of pain into acute and chronic is the occurrence of tissue damage. The first one is accompanied by damage, while chronic pain continues despite wounds healing. Acute pain is directly related to the onset of the disease. It performs a warning and protective function, its task is to inform about an emerging damage or threat.
Acute pain is also information for the doctor. Notifies about the occurrence of some irregularities, so that the specialist can choose the appropriate test methods and make a diagnosis. Typically, acute pain is a symptom of disease and accompanies their vast majority. The occurrence of this pain is almost inevitable, but he also disappears with his recovery. If this is not the case, we can already talk about chronic pain, the causes of which are not always known and often difficult to cope with.
The treatment of acute pain and its causes prevents the occurrence of chronic pain. For example, a broken arm that has been put into a cast for the right time, and then undergoing rehabilitation, will probably never know about it again. But if you give up exercising after you have gypsum removed, your hand may not be as effective as before the fracture, and one of the reasons for this may be chronic pain.
Acute pain does not only occur as a result of damage, but also disease, muscle contraction (both skeletal and smooth), impaired functioning of internal organs and diseases of the nervous system. For the most part, the cause of pain is clear, and the function is always the same – alerting about damage. Pain very often is the first symptom of the disease, but it also happens that it appears too late, as happens often in the case of cancer.
Acute pain is responsible for the emergence of a fight and flight response, resulting in respiratory changes (more frequent and deeper inhale) and circulatory (acceleration of heart rate and increased blood flow in the muscles and brain). This reaction, as the name suggests, mobilizes our body to function. Although initially very beneficial for it, even necessary, it over time causes overloading of the body and can lead to serious complications. With the occurrence of acute pain are also associated with negative emotions, mainly anxiety, which go away with its resolution or transition to chronic pain.
Both anxiety and stress can modify acute pain, causing analgesia (lack of pain), which explains the extraordinary cases of people who continued the fight or race despite seemingly painful injuries. The pain appeared to them only when the emotions subsided.
The most common acute pains include post-traumatic and post-operative pain and burns. Intensity of pain is usually proportional to the extent of tissue damage. In an injury situation, blood flow is very often hindered. Then, analgesics should be administered mainly intravenously, hence the intervention of the doctor is necessary. Postoperative pain occurs when the intraoperative anesthesia ceases to function and it happens that it is accompanied by the visceral pain component, i.e. smooth muscle spasms, stretching of internal organs or inflammation. The location of the wound affects the intensity and duration of postoperative pain. Stronger pain is felt after visceral surgery, and the smaller one is associated with limb surgery. Burning pain is an acute pain in which extreme attention is paid to psychological factors modifying its intensity. Burns are usually associated with long-term destruction of tissues, which means scarring. This is the cause of a significantly reduced well-being.
Acute pain is needed. If it were not for him, serious bodily injuries could occur as a result of many stimulations that would normally not cause them. Unfortunately, many issues regarding acute pain are still unclear, such as why it does not always inform us about the potential danger. One thing is certain: his treatment is the key to avoiding complications in the form of chronic pain.