Table 3

Acute, subacute and chronic pain: definitions and treatment implications

Pain durationType of painTreatment considerations
<6 weeksAcuteTreatment focused on treating injury and managing pain, including identifying possible psychosocial and environmental factors influencing pain.
6–12 weeksSubacuteApproach shifts from management of acute pain to improving function and preventing chronic pain and associated disability.
>12 weeksChronicIdentify and continue to address psychosocial/environmental factors influencing pain, disability and dysfunction. Focus should be on improving function.