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Waiting for Acute Pain to Go Away: How Long is Too Long?

Acute pain associated with injury or surgery is self-limiting, normal and generally predictable, but what if it doesn’t go away? When pain continues after healing, it can have devastating effects on your mobility, your psychological health and your quality of life. Many people suffer from chronic pain for months or even years before getting the help they need. In many cases, this is because they weren’t sure how long they should wait for acute pain to stop.

The Difference between Acute and Chronic Pain

Acute pain is the body’s way of signaling you that there’s an injury or disease affecting your tissues. When the tissue regrows or mends and inflammation subsides, the pain should stop. This type of pain serves a purpose; it warns you to protect and stop using the injured part. If pain persists after healing, it no longer serves any protective function. When there’s no obvious explanation for the pain and it doesn’t go away on its own, it’s considered chronic pain. It may be temporary, or it may last indefinitely.

Chronic pain can also be caused by conditions for which treatment options are limited, such as permanent nerve injury or disc disease. In these cases, it’s appropriate to seek pain management as soon as the ongoing nature of the pain can be verified and conservative treatments have failed.

How Long Should You Wait for Pain to Stop?

Unfortunately, guidelines for diagnosing chronic pain aren’t always clear. Some doctors consider pain to be chronic after three to six months, but others disagree. The normal length of time that it takes for pain to resolve depends on factors such as the type of injury or original source of the pain and what type of underlying process is responsible for it. Healing time is also variable. For example, if you’re a diabetic in your 50s, your tissues may heal more slowly after a surgery or injury than those of a younger, non-diabetic patient.

Generally, if your continued pain persists after healing is apparent, it’s no longer acute pain, and it’s important to address the problem before it gets worse. You don’t have to suffer and wait. If your primary care doctor can’t alleviate your pain within the expected recovery time frame for your specific condition, it’s time to seek assistance from a pain management specialist. Pain specialists receive additional medical training that helps them diminish pain and restore normal function through a combination of advanced procedures, targeted therapies and pharmaceutical agents. Pain care can offer you new hope for relief and help you take back your life.

When Your Pain Doesn’t Go Away, Advanced Pain Care Can Help

At Advanced Pain Care, our compassionate, experienced physicians and staff members provide a variety of effective medical treatments and supportive strategies to help Killeen, Waco, Amarillo, and Austin Metro area patients find relief from chronic pain. To learn how we can help restore your quality of life through professional pain management, schedule an appointment online today.