Differences and Similarities between Acute, Referred, and Chronic Pain



Pain is referred to as an emotional or sensory response of the body to both impending and real damage to its tissues. Pain has different manifestations associated with the injuries to tissues, for example, hyperalgesia, which is an overstated noxious stimulus-response. Once an injury occurs, nerve cell endings called nociceptors, respond to the unpleasant stimuli by conveying the rapid and urgent signal that something is wrong. This message triggers a nociception process, in which chemicals are released and in turns increases the pain signal (Huether & McCance, 2017). During, chronic pain spontaneous, Allodynia, or hyperalgesia occur from alterations in the central or peripheral nervous systems (Huether & McCance, 2017). Referred or visceral pain is pain perceived in an area other than that in which the noxious stimulation takes place that is often perceived in somatic nerve and spinal nerve root distribution (Huether & McCance, 2017).

Differences and Similarities between Acute, Referred, and Chronic Pain

Acute pain is immediate pain resulting from mishaps or physical trauma. Acute pain acts as an alert to indicate to the affected person that there is damage to the body somewhere. Chronic pain is long-term and enduring in nature. The pain, therefore, persists even after healing of the affected tissues. Therefore, unlike acute pain which warns of damage, the chronic pain does not pass any significant message. On the other hand, referred pain affects a tissue which is not its actual source (Alzheimer’s Association, 2016). Therefore, unlike the acute and chronic pain, one may not tell which tissues are being or already damaged. The similarities between these types of pain are the fact that they cause discomforts which can translate into physiological effects. These pains can be to some extent be alleviated with some form of pain relievers.

Behavior and Gender in Relation to Pain

Gender is one factor that plays a role in the treatment for acute, chronic and referred pain. Women report more frequent, severe and persistent pain levels when compared to men (Alzheimer’s Association, 2016). Women are more likely to experience pain during childbirth and mensuration. Therefore, this will have an impact on the diagnosis and treatment of pain since women are better at describing the sensation. On the other hand, behaviors like usage or drugs like heroin, tobacco, and even alcohol consumption may tamper with the pain sensors; hence a reduced awareness of pain, therefore, interferes with the diagnosis and even treatment (McPhee & Hammer, 2019).

The pain sensation is a usual bodily response to disease or even injuries which result from processes in the nociceptive system. Pain has a crucial protective function biologically, with complex phases, and can be affected by gender and behavior.


Alzheimer’s Association. (2016). Help end Alzheimer’s. Retrieved, from http://www.alz.org/

Huether, S. E., & McCance, K. L. (2017). Understanding pathophysiology (Laureate custom ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

McPhee, S. J., & Hammer, G. D. (2019). Pathophysiology of disease: An introduction to clinical

medicine (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Medical

(n.d.). Acute Pain vs. Chronic Pain. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/12051-acute-vs-chronic-pain

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