Acute Pain, Subacute Pain and Chronic Pain
Pain of Recent Origin; Persisting Pain; Subacute Pain; chronic pain
Acute pain is pain that has been present for less than three months (Merskey 1979; Merskey and Bogduk 1994). Chronic pain is pain that has been present for more than three months (Merskey 1979; Merskey and Bogduk 1994). Subacute pain is a subset of acute pain: it is pain that has been present for at least six weeks but less than three months (van Tulder et al. 1997).
Acute pain, subacute pain, and chronic pain are defined by units of time, but the concepts on which they are based are more fundamentally aetiological and prognostic.
Acute pain was first defined by Bonica, as “a complex constellation of unpleasant sensory, perceptual and emotional experiences and certain associated autonomic, physiologic, emotional and behavioural responses” (Bonica 1953). Bonica went on to say “invariably, acute pain and these associated responses are provoked by ... injury and/or disease ... or...
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