Understanding Chronic Pain

Chronic and Acute Pain

Pain is a serious medical condition that can impact anyone at any time. Pain that lasts only for a short period of time is called acute pain; it’s a normal feeling that typically alerts us to a possible injury.6 Chronic pain is very different. Chronic pain is often defined as any pain that lasts for 12 weeks or longer.6 According to the Institute of Medicine, chronic pain is estimated to affect approximately 100 million American adults.1

Chronic pain may be caused by an initial injury or there may be an ongoing cause, like a medical illness.6 But for some people, there may also be no clear cause.6 Other health problems, such as fatigue, sleep disturbance, decreased appetite, and mood changes, often accompany chronic pain.6 Chronic pain may affect people's ability to participate in daily tasks.1