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How Long Will I Have This Pain?

by Julie L Hodges 9 months ago in Science

Pain is awful whether it is acute or chronic pain.

Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

There are many types of pain, but two main types that refer to how long a person has a specific type of pain: chronic or acute. This post will define what that means for you as a pain patient.

The Pain Scale

I’m going to start with the pain scale. Many people do not understand the severity of pain with regard to the pain scale used by physicians and emergency rooms in many countries all over the world. Often when a healthcare professional asks a patient how bad the pain is on a scale from one to ten, the patient may say a ten, but, in reality, the patient is at a six or seven. A ten on the scale means the pain is so unbearable you may faint, be screaming, and are unable to speak.

I believe if pain patients know the pain scale and speak to their doctors with knowledge of the true intensity of their pain, doctors will believe more of us when we describe our pain. For example, a patient may answer, “My back pain is at an eight. It’s really intense. I can’t follow the easiest things, like a television show. I feel like, if I stand up, I will fall because of the pain.” If pain patients share the correct number on the pain scale with a quick description that reflects that level of pain, we will look more intelligent and above board. It makes me angry we need to think of these things. But today in the midst of the “opioid crisis” we have to be smarter to get effective treatment for our pain. Directly below is the current pain scale.

“2020 pain chart” by JSF539 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Pain is the body’s way of telling the brain something is wrong and there is an injury. Whether your pain is acute or chronic, it may be caused by the same reason, illness, or injury of some type. For example, a bout of colitis may cause strong, acute pain at the moment, and chronic, long-term pain.

Acute Pain

Acute pain normally lasts somewhere between three to six months. For example, a sprained ankle, broken bone, and surgery would each cause acute pain. Acute pain usually resolves when the tissues are healed. Your doctor will take the expected length of pain into account when prescribing medication and, possibly, physical therapy.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain lasts from six months to the rest of your life. Pain can remain even after the injury itself is completely healed. The nerve responses that signal pain can continue for months and years. The best person to speak of the pain is the person who is feeling it! Pain, unless there is a specific cause that has not resolved, cannot be detected by a particular test.

Many conditions cause chronic pain, such as arthritis, cancer, headaches, fibromyalgia, Lupus, nerve pain, carpal tunnel, scoliosis, spine and spinal disc conditions like degenerative disc disease, many autoimmune illnesses, muscle pain, and back pain.

In some cases, there is a chronic illness or condition whereby there is no injury, such as phantom pain where a missing body part still hurts, fibromyalgia, headaches, or neuralgias like trigeminal neuralgia.

Chronic pain can cause mental and emotional conditions such as anxiety, depression, anger, and fear the pain will get worse or that an injury will make it worse. It’s difficult for people without pain to understand the anguish of waking up every day in pain.

Chronic pain causes great stress on a person, bringing physical complications like muscle tension, changes in appetite and sleep, and fatigue. These complications can cause additional pain. For example, muscle tension in the neck and shoulders can cause headaches.

Most people, including doctors, do not completely understand pain. If the reason for the pain is gone, the pain should be gone. Unfortunately, that’s not how pain and the body always work. Let’s remember that before we stigmatize others and their pain.

If you have chronic pain, talk to your doctor. If your doctor isn’t supportive, find another doctor who can help you find the best pain control medication or other methods to control the pain. Reach out to me at where you can find help and more information about living with chronic pain and/or illness.

If you like what I write, please feel free to give me a tip. Thank you, in advance, for your kindness and generosity.


Julie L Hodges

Julie, aka The Pain Guru, lives with chronic pain in Nevada, teaches yoga/meditation, reads and writes every day. She loves her life with a husband and dogs, a paranormal team, going places in their RV, and having lots of outdoor fun.

Read next: How Michelangelo's Slaves Were Destined to Travel France

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