Distinction between acute and chronic pain

Acute pain has a specific function. For example if we break our leg, the acute pain draws our attention to the injury and forces us to protect the injured part of the body and to take measures to support its healing. If we do not take care of our injury or do not react to the pain, our life could be in danger. Chronic pain, however, does not fulfil any function – the pain itself becomes the problem.

Including psychology in the treatment of chronic pain is based on a paradigm change in the last couple of decades. Whereas previously a biomedical approach was applied now a biopsychosocial approach is used. In this approach, pain is not considered to be a mere physical phenomenon; the complexity and interaction of physical, psychological and social factors are also considered in the treatment.