Acute and Chronic Pain: An introduction By: Dmitro Jovnyruk, BSc. (M.OMSc Candidate)
When we injure our bodies, from over-exertion or a traumatic accident, for example, we go through a phase of acute pain that is very local to the site of injury, typically sharp pain making the area hot and/or swollen to the touch as blood is shuttled to the area. In addition, typical injuries include muscular contractures (prolonged spasms) that constrict the venous drainage out of the area. The swelling stage is a way for your body to compartmentalize and contain the troubled region and add stability to the area so that further damage can be minimized and the pain allows us to consciously be aware of it, so we can avoid it. This stage is extremely important because it is the beginning of the healing process. Swelling is your friend in this situation and not the culprit. With blood being sent to the area, swelling is commonly associated with, as a state that needs to be reduced by either putting ice or taking anti-inflammatory medication. Understanding that nutrient rich arterial blood going to the area to begin recovery, would tip off that delaying the process may not be the best strategy at the infancy stage of the injury.