Understand the pain

Acute pain / chronic pain, what are the differences ?


Each of us has already felt an intense or brief pain following a shock, a burn or an injury: it is a physiological function that constitutes an alert against external aggressions, and thus contributes to maintaining the integrity of the organism. This acute pain may sometimes justify the use of an analgesic drug.

Chronic pain is, on the other hand, a permanent pain, endured during at least 3 months consecutive. It has significant physical, moral and social consequences and then becomes a disease by itself, altering the quality of life of patients in a sustainable way. Pain treatments are often insufficient to treat these patients.


The many faces of pain


Chronic pain is a significant public health issue, affecting about 20% of adults and representing more than 1.5 billion people worldwide. However, it is still often not well known and concerns very different situations for which the painful symptom that develops in time becomes the main problem (pain disease).


A broken-down innovation


The available analgesics are most often of partial effectiveness, causing many side effects (during chronic treatments). Most of them belong to old classes of compounds (opioids, antiepileptics, antidepressants...).
Pharmaceutical innovation in pain management has been at a standstill for more than 50 years.




Sources : Serrie et a. Douleurs (2014) 15, 106-114 / Mick et al. Douleurs (2013) 14, 57-66 / Breivik et al. BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1229 / Bouhassira et al. Pain. 2008 Jun; 136(3):380-7 / Breivik et al. Eur J Pain. 2006 May;10(4):287-333 / Pain in Europe - a Public Health Issue (White paper sept 2011) / Taifel, P., Gerche, S. & Huas, D. La douleur en médecine générale. Douleur Analgésie 15, 71-79 (2002) / Livre Blanc de la douleur SFETD (2017)  9-10, 39-41.