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The two types of pain

MagazineJune 2007 (Vol. 18 Issue 3)The two types of pain

Medicine puts it into one of two categories:

Pain isn't just pain. Medicine puts it into one of two categories:

Acute pain - which comes on suddenly and which can be intense - has been described as the body's alarm call. Something is seriously wrong and needs attending to;

or

Chronic pain - which can be a nagging, niggling ache or pain that seems to serve no useful purpose as it is no longer an urgent and immediate call to action. Clearly, though, it still signals that something is not right. Chronic pain was once defined as any pain that lasts longer than six months, but it is today more precisely defined as "pain that persists longer than the normal course of time associated with a particular injury or problem". Unlike acute pain, which may have an immediate remedy, chronic pain can be far more difficult to deal with, and may involve multi-disciplinary help, including medicine, physiotherapy, psychology, alternative therapies such as acupuncture, and 'mind-body' approaches such as relaxation and meditation.

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