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What is the difference between acute and chronic?

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What is the difference between acute and chronic pain?

This article dives into two of the most common medical terms you’ll hear, both at the doctor’s office and in everyday life. Those terms are acute pain and chronic pain. While neither is likely to be your favorite phrase, both acute and chronic pain can in many cases be diagnosed and treated. The biggest difference between acute and chronic is that acute is more sudden, and often quicker to dissipate, while chronic takes longer to settle in and lasts for a longer period of time. Let’s dive into the two common medical terms, and look at what they mean for your #hakalifewarrior journey and how you can treat both types of pain.


Defining pain

You’re familiar with pain. It’s something you have dealt with your entire life, most likely, even if most pain is quick and passes without long-term incident. Pain is, officially, a feeling of discomfort, registered by the brain after being passed through the body in nerve fibers by sensory receptors. 

You may have heard it said that individuals have different levels of pain tolerances. There is truth to this — but it’s not the whole picture. This phrase typically refers to acute pain — to something sudden that happens and to which you must form an immediate response to. That might be to cry, or it might be to grit your teeth to hide the pain. It’s much tougher to do this with chronic pain, however, as we’ll see later in this article.


What is acute pain?

Acute pain is defined as pain that is short setting and often short-term. It comes suddenly, generally as an identifiable reaction to something that you did. And its effects are often not permanent or even long term. You may stub your toe while entering or exiting the shower in the morning, and it might really hurt. But that pain is going to die down quickly, and by the time lunch rolls around you may have forgotten that you’d ever stubbed the toe in the first place. No treatment was required, and you knew exactly where the pain was coming from and why. You also knew what to do (maybe you put ice on it, took an Ibuprofen, or simply waited it out for a few minutes.)

In some cases, acute pain is more severe than a stubbed toe. A broken bone, for instance, requires medical attention and can have a serious impact on your life — but often it is possible to fully heal and recover, and to return to any activities you participated in before the accident happened.

As such, acute pain is generally easier to identify and cure because it is often caused by an identifiable source — be that an action like spraining an ankle, or a reaction to something sudden that happens to you.

You may be able to rid yourself of the acute pain yourself, or you may need to visit a doctor. 


What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is the opposite of acute pain. Chronic pain tends to be slower onset, and it also tends to stick around much longer — sometimes permanently, even if it fades in and out and isn’t always a persistent bug in your ear. Chronic pain often takes months to set in fully, and generally lasts longer than six months.

Cancer can be a form of chronic pain, as can migraines or joint pain. Chronic pain tends to cause much more long-term stress on the body than acute pain does. It is generally tougher to treat and sometimes even to diagnose.

Chronic pain is generally not solvable by yourself on your own — medical advice, research, and trial and error are often required to diagnose and treat chronic pain.


How do Omega-3s play into the picture?

With long term, chronic conditions such as joint pain and inflammation, often one simple solution to stop or numb pain isn’t enough. Those of you with arthritis know this first hand — if only a couple ibuprofens could zap away the pain in those sore knees for good!

Proper treatment of chronic pain often involves trial and error, and working very closely with a doctor (sometimes more than one!) to identify the source of your pain and the best way to treat it. You may need more than one type of treatment.

Supplements such as GLX3 can play a role in reducing chronic joint pain because they work well with prescribed medicines, physical fitness routines, and different dietary strategies. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly recommended when it comes to treating sore joints. We’re proud to offer a leading Omega-3 supplement in GLX3, something our Haka Life Warriors can trust to go to bat for them every day. Your body easily absorbs and processes the polar phospholipids in GLX3 and distributes it to where it is needed most, on an ongoing basis — your joints. 

True, you’re not going to take a Green Lipped Mussel Oil supplement and wake up tomorrow pain-free for life. But, like the type of condition you’re facing, the best solutions tend to be chronic. You’re playing a long game here, and it takes big picture thinking to come out ahead. You need solutions that will stand with you until the end,

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