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Chronic versus acute issues; what’s the difference?


Chronic vs acute issues…what’s the difference?

By definition, the difference is all about time. Acute issues just happened, and chronic issues have been around longer (sometimes weeks/months and sometimes even years).

There can also be a level of complexity involved in some chronic issues that should be considered and recognized. As an example, if you tore a knee ligament as a high school athlete and years later you have regular knee pain when exercising, it MAY BE due to damage in the knee that cannot heal.

BUT, there also may be chronic issues that are simply not being addressed appropriately. Because this is often the case with muscular pain (sore neck, shoulders, back, hips etc) we want to have a good understanding of the physiology involved in different tissues of the body.

As an example, muscles heal pretty quick when they can (2-3 weeks) but ligaments or tendons take longer (6-8 weeks), so knowing what is injured should give you some time frame for seeing recovery.

In the case of a muscular pain that is chronic and has been around for months (far longer than the 2-3 weeks mentioned above) this falls therefore into the category of chronic pain.

A couple things to consider:

1) What ever you are doing to help it, is not helping. If you’ve tried rest, therapies, stretching, strengthening, icing, heat etc etc. and it’s continuing, something else needs to happen; you need to keep trying something new.

2) Consider your posture as a major stress to your body and see if you can work there to limit the daily stress of gravity. Not everyone recognizes how impactful just sitting, standing and generally positioning yourself upright all day, can be on the muscular system of the body.

Take a look at a great program for posture strengthening, and the video on if there’s a structural issue that may have come from trauma.

3) Consider a chronic issue to be a daily acute issue instead. The reason being, is that it forces you to take seriously what’s happening today that is CONTRIBUTING to your pain levels. If we only think that the problem was 3 months ago when the pain started we are not in the right frame of mind to tackle the issue today and therefore often are involved in repeating many of the stresses that are causing today’s pain.

I’ve dealt with chronic hip pain that lasted for 18 months before I found the solution. For me, it was Cranio-Sacral therapy after having tried “everything,” Alison Heath, an RMT at Acacia health to be exact (…/acacia-health-west…/book…)

I wish you all the best in your recovery journey. Throw out some specifics in the comments if you want any feedback as I’d be happy to help.

Dr. Matty