Understanding Acute and Chronic Pain with Your Chiropractor

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Pain is a defense mechanism that your body use to protect itself.  It is also a warning sign that something is wrong with your body.

by Dr. Long Van

Pain defined

Pain is a sensory symptom of tissue damage or disorder that can either be acute or chronic. Researchers have learned a great deal about pain and its physiological and psychological basis, leading to pain management treatments that can provide complete or partial pain relief.

Chiropractic Pain Management“Untreated pain can interfere with the healing process by affecting the immune system.1” In cases of back pain, discomfort can impede the rehabilitation process by interfering with exercise and increasing psychological distress. “Chronic back pain tends to be very difficult to treat, especially in cases involving failed back surgery or nerve pain.2

Pain is inherently subjective, and a greater awareness of the need for taking pain seriously is growing among the health community as well as the public. When in pain, get medical attention as soon as possible and don’t ignore it.  Ignoring the signs and symptoms might lead to more severe conditions.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Pain Management: Acute Pain and Chronic Pain

Pain management often deals with two broad categories of pain—acute pain and chronic pain.

Acute pain is of short duration—usually between 3 to 6 months, or less—and is usually caused by soft tissue damage, such as a sprained ankle or a paper cut.  The pain gradually resolves as the injured tissues heal. Acute pain is distinct from chronic pain and is relatively sharper and more severe.

Chronic pain lasts for more than three months. The pain can become progressively worse and re-occur intermittently, outlasting the usual healing process. According to conventional ideas of pain, after the injured tissue heals, pain is expected to stop once the underlying cause is treated. “However, chronic pain can persist after injuries heal for no apparent biological cause.3

The most common sources of chronic pain include low back pain, headache, and arthritic pain. Chronic pain can cause significant psychological and emotional trauma and often limits an individual’s ability to fully function.

Chiropractors on the Rescue

Chiropractors can treat both acute and chronic pain. Various chiropractic care treatments can help you manage chronic pain. To address chronic pain symptoms such as inflammation and muscle tension, chiropractors use a variety of non-surgical treatments.

Before you go to a chiropractor to address your pain, it’s important to know what exactly is causing it.

Your chiropractor will do a physical exam, as well as some tests to help him or her diagnose your pain. Once diagnosed, your chiropractor will develop and present to you a “treatment plan, which may include spinal manipulation, manual therapies, and therapeutic exercises.4

Work with your chiropractor in your treatment plan. Once your pain is fully addressed, you should be able to gradually increase your daily activities.

Follow the links below to learn more about how chiropractic care can help with specific spine conditions:


  1. Tennant F. Introduction to intractable pain. Intractable Pain Disease Web site. http://intractablepaindisease.com.
  2. http://www.spineuniverse.com
  3. https://www.spine-health.com
  4. Haldeman S. Principles and Practice of Chiropractic. York, PA: McGraw-Hill; 2005.


1 https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/pain-management/pain-management-chronic-back-pain

2 https://www.spine-health.com/glossary/pain

3 https://www.spine-health.com/glossary/chronic-pain

4 https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/chronic-pain/chiropractic-care-chronic-pain

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Dr. Long Van

Author: Dr. Long Van

Long Van, D.C. joined the team at Absolute Injury and Pain Physicians in 2008. He has experience in helping the human body function properly through the natural approach, and enjoys reading up on new information concerning medical conditions and associated treatments available.

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