Acute Pain

Acute pain is usually related to an obvious injury such as dental disease, fracture or operation, and is the body's normal response to tissue damage. Cancer pain is usually associated with an obvious source of tissue damage and may be acute or chronic.

Acute pain can be severe but usually resolves over a short period of time (days or weeks). Treatments usually only need to be given for a short time while healing of the injury begins. Treatment of acute pain is essential to facilitate recovery from surgery or trauma by enabling early mobilisation and avoiding complications. Severe untreated acute pain may also predispose to the development of chronic pain.

Acute pain is often straightforward to treat with a range of analgesics and other interventions depending on the pain severity. Opioids are useful for treating acute pain and usually only need to be given for a period of a few days. The dose of analgesia should be reduced as healing occurs. Refer to management of opioids for further guidance.

Guidance on chronic non-malignant pain (pain lasting longer than 3 months duration) can be found here.

Guidance on the treatment of pain in palliative care see section 16.2 Pain control in palliative care

Peri-operative analgesia (including fentanyl and alfentanil) see BNF

Related drug monographs:


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