Acute pain is caused by soft tissue damage and often subsides within days to weeks, typically resolving in less than three months. Pain is one of the most common reasons that patients visit their family doctor for.

Acute pain can be:

  1. Musculoskeletal, i.e. arising from muscles, bones, joints or ligaments, e.g. ankle sprain, tension headache, low back pain,  bone fracture, etc.
  2. Visceral, i.e. arising from internal organs, e.g appendicitis, gastritis (stomach infection), dysmenorrhoea (period pains), etc.
  3. Neuropathic, i.e. arising from a nerve, e.g. as a result of injury or nerve compression such as sciatica
  4. Psychosomatic, i.e. physical pain felt secondary to psychological pain, e.g. after a very stressful event or psychological trauma

Accurate diagnosis and appropriate management will determine how quickly the patient recovers and will minimize the risk for complications, such as persistent pain.

The Consultation

A consultation for acute pain usually lasts around 15minutes. The doctor will ask you a few questions about when and how the pain started, the severity, and any associated symptoms. You may also be screened for the risk of developing persistent pain.

After the interview, the doctor will examine you, paying attention to the area of your body where you are experiencing the pain. He may also listen to your heart and lungs and check your blood pressure to get a better indication of how the pain is affecting you.

Following the examination, the doctor will discuss the probable diagnosis and let you know if there is any need for further tests. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, treatment should be started immediately. Although The Pain Clinic likes to adopt a conservative approach, adequate pain management in acute cases is important to help patients restore function and return to normal activities as soon as possible. Drugs are prescribed according to need, with opiates sometimes being necessary for the acute phase. Anti-inflammatory drugs may also be necessary for cases where there may be concurrent inflammation.

In patients who prefer to abstain from taking pharmaceuticals, all the options for adequate pain relief are discussed and the patient is advised on the best combination of natural remedies that can help with pain and healing.

Post-Op Pain

Post-op pain is a very common type of acute pain which is experienced after someone has an operation. During surgery, soft tissues are traumatized while the person is under anaesthetic and the pain experienced when the anaesthetic wears off is usually quite severe. Pain levels vary greatly from one person to another and therefore pain relief post-surgery is usually administered as needed, although it is commonly given regularly during the first day or two. Patients are often given sufficient pain relief when they are discharged from hospital but occasionally patients either do not tolerate their medication or do not obtain adequate pain relief from what they are prescribed.

At The Pain Clinic, our experts can offer you advice on the best combination of painkillers which you can take to obtain adequate pain relief while being able to function normally and return to work as quickly as possible without any long-term complications. When post-operative pain is not controlled adequately or there are risk factors, patients become at risk of developing chronic pain and early intervention in such cases is crucial.

When patients have undergone surgery and are still not controlled on their prescribed medication, they are screened for risk factors associated with developing chronic pain. Adequate pain relief is prescribed and psychological support is offered. If the preliminary plan for pain relief is not effective, patients may need to be investigated further and managed by a multidisciplinary team in the same way as patients suffering from chronic pain.