Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Pain management health centre

Select a topic to explore more.
Select An Article

Pain basics

Pain can range from a mild discomfort to intense or throbbing pain. Pain can also be short-term, or long-term.

What is acute pain?

Acute pain is short-term pain that begins suddenly and is usually sharp. It serves as a warning of disease or a threat to the body. Acute pain may be caused by many events or circumstances, including:

  • Surgery
  • Broken bones
  • Dental work
  • Burns or cuts
  • Labour and childbirth

Acute pain may be mild and over in a moment, or it may be severe and last for weeks or months. In most cases, acute pain does not last any longer than a few months and it disappears when the underlying cause of pain has been treated or has healed. Unrelieved acute pain, however, may lead to chronic pain.

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is long-term pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks.

The physical effects of chronic pain include tense muscles, limited mobility, lack of energy, and changes in appetite. Emotional effects include depression, anger, anxiety and fear of re-injury. This fear may hamper a person's ability to return to normal work or leisure activities. Common sources of chronic pain include:

Chronic pain may derive from an initial trauma/injury or infection. Alternatively, there may be an ongoing cause of pain. However, some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage.

How is pain treated?

Depending on its severity, pain may be treated in a number of ways. Options for the symptomatic treatment of pain may include one or more of the following:

Some pain drugs are more effective at fighting pain when they are combined with other methods of treatment. You may need to try various methods to maintain optimal pain relief.

 

Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on May 18, 2016

Mind, body & soul newsletter

Looking after your health and wellbeing.
Sign Up

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman_holding_head_in_pain
How to help headache pain
man in mirror
How smoking affects your looks & life
boost your metabolism
Foods to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
man holding sore neck
Could you have a hormone imbalance?
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
woman holding mouth
Common mouth problems
couple makigh salad
Nutrition for over 50s
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning and organising tips
adult man contemplating
When illness makes it hard to eat
Allergies
Allergy myths and facts
egg in cup
Surprising things that can harm your liver