Chronic pain is categorized as, pain that seems never ending. In the world of medicine, the difference between chronic and acute pain is the time since the onset of pain. Three and six months are common time intervals, but many researchers place the time transition from acute to chronic pain at twelve months.
Acute pain usually decreases with time and chronic pain will consistently persist, and it can have a direct impact on all aspects of a person's life (mentally, physically and emotionally)
Chronic pain usually is generated within the body (such as the spinal cord or the brain) and is very challenging to treat, but it is basically managed with pain medications and other pain relieving techniques.
Individuals with chronic pain tend to have a higher rate of anxiety, sleep disturbances, neuroticism and signs of depression. Fear is also a factor that many chronic pain sufferers have to deal with, because due to the lack of possible movement, weight gain is possible and this can intensify chronic pain.
People that deal with pain on a daily basis are well aware that their pain is not just physical, but it will have an effect on one's emotional state of mind. The ability to move may become limited, for instance, and this can cause a person not to be able to participate in daily activities they love, and they may become frustrated. In addition, they may find that they require more assistance on a daily basis, and this can trigger feelings of anxiety, irritability, and depression.
There are many causes of acute and chronic pain, but most commonly they are due to illness or injury. Some joint pain facts state, that age-related diseases, such as arthritis, are considered to be chronic pain. When left unchecked, chronic pain can alter a person's body at the cellular level, and cause pain long after the damaged tissues have healed.
According to one study conducted in Rome, Italy, and published in "Plos", on October 12, 2011, it concluded that individuals suffering from chronic and acute pain showed a greater level of self-centeredness that was focused on self-gain. The study is not suggesting that all individuals that are dealing with chronic pain are self-centered people. However, some interesting findings about this study showed, that when a person is dealing with chronic pain, they seem to be less inclined to follow the pattern of social norms, and their interpersonal behavioral manner could be altered (such as showing empathy toward other people).
What these types of studies do reveal, is that there is a link between physiological bodily states, and behavior toward the world around us. Also, acute and chronic pain can change things fundamentally, such as job status, daily routines, and disrupted sleep patterns, due to chronic pain. These factors can add mental stress to a person, which may increase the intensity of pain.
Many people, who have chronic and acute pain, often find solace in spiritual meditation. Several different clinical studies have shown, that people, who have a strong spiritual belief system will experience less pain on a daily basis.
Mindful meditation is another useful technique that has been proven to decrease chronic pain, overall stress and anxiety. This type of mental exercise can be done anywhere, at any time. An example of this would be, to sit in a relaxed position with your eyes closed and focusing on the "here and now" - letting go of all thoughts from the past and future. Concentrate on your breathing, and keep your mind concentrating on all the wonderful things that are in and around you at the present moment ( the smell of freshly cut grass, the heat of the sun on your skin, the sound of a purring cat on your lap, etc.). Practicing mindful meditation, several times a day, can be very beneficial for managing chronic and acute pain, as it can provide you with a sense of control, which is vital in making daily pain a more manageable experience.
Pain response is different in everyone, and there are a few influential factors that may lead a person to react differently, and they include, gender, age, ethnicity, culture, emotional, spiritual beliefs, economic status, life before chronic pain, and a support system. Another factor contributing to a person's reaction to pain is a learned response. For instance, how parents respond to a child's pain will set the foundation, as to how they will respond to pain in the future.