Pain is a normal, expected part of the healing process following surgery, a procedure, an injury or an illness. Pain lets you know you’ve had an “injury” to your body. Having pain does not always mean that something is wrong or that you’re having complications.
Pain usually gets better as you heal, but it is more likely to do so if you take certain steps. Being active and working to regain function can contribute to healing and reducing pain.
Having pain can be exhausting and difficult to manage on your own. Talk with your health care provider about your pain so you can work together to create a safe plan to help you manage pain as you heal. The plan may include both non-medication and medication options. The goal is to help you take part in various activities and regain function.
Pain is usually referred to as acute or chronic.
Acute pain is a sudden, short-term episode of pain. Examples include pain after surgery or pain from an injury such as a broken bone. Acute pain decreases naturally as your body heals and generally lasts only for hours or days.
Pain is called chronic when it lasts for months or years, and it does not necessarily follow the natural pattern of improvement with healing.
Another term you may hear for pain is called “acute pain on top of chronic pain.” This happens when you have acute pain from an injury, illness, surgery or procedure in addition to an existing chronic pain condition such as arthritis. Your health care provider may adjust your chronic pain care plan temporarily while you have acute pain, but it is important you try to maintain the usual methods you use to manage chronic pain during this time.
While dealing with pain is challenging, try not to let it overwhelm you. Fear, anxiety and focus on pain can actually make pain worse. Remember that you do not have to deal with pain alone. Your health care team works with you to help you safely manage your pain.
This material is for your education and information only. This content does not replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. New medical research may change this information. If you have questions about a medical condition, always talk with your health care provider.
- © 2018 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved.
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