Acute pain is short term pain that develops suddenly after injury or a medical condition that causes pain. It might result from tissue damage or inflammation and it tends to be intense before slowly calming. Acute pain can last from a few seconds up to six months.
Chronic pain is persistent and may last for years. The pain may have originally been triggered by tissue damage but has continued beyond the time required for the tissue damage to heal.
You may also start to associate certain movements or activities with pain. This can lead to a downward spiral of pain, limited function and low mood.
When pain becomes chronic, the root cause of the pain is no longer a soft tissue issue, it is a central nervous system issue.