What is the difference between short & long-term pain?
Short term pain is usually due to an injury or damage to the body such as broken limbs, operations, nerve damage etc.
However after 3-6 months the body has usually healed or settled as much as it is going to unless it is due to an inflammatory condition such as rheumatoid arthritis. The pain that is felt after this time is because the body is becoming very sensitive and is giving off pain signals in an uncontrolled way. This is called long-term or persistant pain.
Long-term pain is a common condition that affects more than 1 in 5 of us, however we don’t know why this happens to some people and not others. This kind of pain is still very real, however treatments that focus on the original injury are unlikely to work and it needs managing in a different way to acute pain.
Although pain medication can play a part in managing long-term pain they only reduce pain for about 10 percent of people, and even if you get some benefit they are unlikely to remove all of the pain.
People also find that the side effects, which can occur in up to 4 out of 5 people taking pain medication, can be more of a problem than the pain.
So 90 out of 100 people get no benefit long term, but they still get the side effects.