Pain is a massive global health issue. According to estimates, one in five people worldwide experiences pain, and another one in every ten adults is diagnosed with chronic pain every year. 2

Pain is a physiologically protective tool, but it can also lose its adaptive function and develop into a pathologic state that will negatively affect your quality of life. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) recently revised its definition of pain to include an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with or resembling actual or potential tissue damage. 5

What are the classifications of PAIN?

There are two main types of pain. The classification determines whether the pain is considered a sign or condition.

Here are the two types of pain;

ACUTE PAIN

Acute pain has a quick onset and a short period. It may appear suddenly, or specific events may induce it. It is usually a sharp pain. Acute discomfort usually lasts less than six months. It goes away when you remove or treat the underlying source of the pain. You can resume your normal activities once an acute discomfort has subsided.

Here are some varieties of factors that may cause acute pain:

  • Surgery.
  • Dislocation
  • Dental care
  • Cuts or burns
  • Broken Bones
  • Muscle injuries
  • Childbirth and labor. 3

CHRONIC PAIN

According to the IASP, “pain that lasts or recurs for more than three months is considered chronic pain. It is a pain that may continue after the injury has healed. It can happen without an injury or surgery. 1

There may be several sources of chronic pain. Chronic pain has different categories, and you can experience more than one category.

Here are multiple categories of chronic pain;

Nociceptive Pain

  • Actual tissue-related pain from bruises, burns, or sprains

Joint and Muscle Pain

  • Back pain 
  • Myofascial (muscles and facials) pain

Pain caused by Inflammation

  • Autoimmune disorders (rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Infection 

Psychogenic Pain

  • Pain that results from emotional, psychological, or behavioral reasons, such as headaches or abdominal pain

Mechanical Pain 

  •  Growing Cancer 1

How Can Physiotherapy Treat Acute And Chronic Pain?

The treatment strategies in physiotherapy target physiological and anatomical factors. The primary goal is to repair any tissue damage brought on by an injury, lack of use, etc.

These procedures are;

  • Electrical Stimulation; This is a type of physiotherapy treatment modality that can effectively reduce pain by passing electrical current into the body. The pain reduction is due to enhanced muscle strength and blood circulation. Types of electrical stimulation include Transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation (TENS), Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), Interferential current (IFC), Iontophoresis, and Russian Stimulation. These work best for chronic pain management. 4
  • Thermal Agent; It can be heat therapy or cold therapy (Cryotherapy). Cold therapy is one of the preferred treatments for acute pain. 4
  • Manual therapy; is the use of hands-on techniques. It has two major groups. They are; Soft tissue techniques/ Massage and Joint techniques. Massage therapy can treat acute and chronic pain. 4

Acupuncture; In traditional acupuncture, the physiotherapist will pierce the acupuncture points with single-use, disposable needles that have been pre-sterilized and come in various sizes, lengths, and materials. The physiotherapist will determine the locations of these points based on an assessment of the cause of the imbalance. 6

Summary 

Pain can either be a warning or a disorder. Physiotherapy techniques are effective in the management of both acute and chronic pain. 

References

Dydyk AM, Conermann T. Chronic Pain. [Updated 2023 May 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553030/#

Goldberg, D.S., McGee, S.J. Pain as a global public health priority. BMC Public Health 11, 770 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-11-770

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/12051-acute-vs-chronic-pain
https://www.physio-pedia.com/Traditional_Physiotherapy_Interventions_for_Pain_Conditions

Raja, S. N., Carr, D. B., Cohen, M., Finnerup, N. B., Flor, H., Gibson, S., Keefe, F. J., Mogil, J. S., Ringkamp, M., Sluka, K. A., Song, X. J., Stevens, B., Sullivan, M. D., Tutelman, P. R., Ushida, T., & Vader, K. (2020). The revised International Association for the Study of Pain definition of pain: concepts, challenges, and compromises. Pain, 161(9), 1976–1982. https://doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001939

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