Are acute and chronic pain the same?
No, and many studies are showing that the way your brain processes pain can play a major role in how you experience pain. Scientists have used advanced imaging techniques to take pictures of the brain in patients experiencing acute and chronic pain and found that very different areas are active.
Take a look a the “brain pictures” (functional MRI or fMRI scans) below. On the left, you can see where the brain lights up for acute pain. On the right, you can see where the brain lights up in patients with chronic pain. The point here is that these pain states are very different.
So why does this matter?
The simplest answer is that the way we treat acute and chronic pain should not be the same.