The Difference Between Chronic and Acute Pain

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Understanding the Differences Between Acute and Chronic Pain

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By clearly understanding the difference between chronic and acute pain, at-home caregivers in Sonoma County can ask leading questions to determine what type of discomfort their loved one is experiencing. This is especially beneficial for seniors with conditions like Parkinson’s disease or dementia-related conditions who may have difficulty verbalizing and describing their pain.

Acute Pain

Acute pain can be sharp or mild pain that comes on suddenly. If mild, this type of pain is often treated with NSAIDs or conservative treatments like rest and heat or cold applications. If sudden, sharp pain is experienced, immediate attention is required to determine the source of the pain. Seniors may experience acute pain from:

• Recent surgery (sharp pain after surgery is rarely considered normal)
• Dental issues that haven’t been diagnosed
• Broken bones
• Accidental cuts
• Muscle strain

Chronic Pain

Acute or recurring pain that lasts for six months or more is considered chronic pain. Ongoing pain, whether it’s from conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or an injury that was never properly treated, can contribute to depression and a general lack of energy sometimes experienced by seniors. Sonoma County home care providers note that chronic pain is typically more difficult to diagnose and treat than acute pain that responds well to initial treatment. This is also the type of pain that can limit mobility in seniors. Chronic complaints common among seniors include:

• Neck and lower back pain
• Neurogenic pain (chronic pain from nerve damage, as with diabetes)
• Psychogenic pain (ongoing physical pain related to psychological issues common in seniors like depression)
• Arthritis (and other inflammatory conditions that recur on a regular basis)

While minor aches and pains are normal, acute or chronic pain described by your senior loved one is usually an indication that something is wrong. Bouts of pain can range from mild to severe. However, each report of pain, especially lingering or recurring discomfort and sharp, sudden pain, should be evaluated by a doctor.

If your senior loved one is having a hard time completing everyday tasks due to chronic pain, turn to the dedicated staff at Home Care Assistance. In addition to hourly and live-in care, we provide stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia care Sonoma County families trust, ensuring seniors have the help and support they need regardless of ability. For more information, please give us a call at (707) 843.4368. Our caregiver are trained, experienced, and ready to help with a variety of tasks, including errands, grocery shopping, meal prep, light housekeeping, personal care, and transportation.