What is pain?

Pain ranges from mild to extreme discomfort and can feel like everything from a sharp stab to a dull ache. Health professionals will sometimes ask you to rate the severity of your pain on a 1 to 10 scale.


Types of pain

One of the most common ways to classify pain is by how long the person has had it.

Acute pain

Acute pain starts suddenly and tends to be short-lived. It can range from mild to severe pain and can have many different causes - usually a normal response to trauma or damage to the body.
The term 'acute' does not mean the pain is severe but rather how long it lasts.

See our checklist of questions to ask about medicines for acute pain.

Chronic pain

Chronic pain is pain that continues beyond the normal time of healing. It is described as being pain that is experienced most days of the week for more than 3 months. It is sometimes called 'persistent pain'.

A speech bubble that says "An easier way to talk about your chronic pain"

Explore our free Chronic pain communication tool. It can help you to get a better picture of your pain, and support you when talking about your chronic pain with your doctor, specialist, psychologist, friend, family member or partner.