Transitioning from acute to chronic pain: An examination of different trajectories of low-back pain

Robert J. Gatchel, Kelley Bevers, John C. Licciardone, Jianzhong Su, Ying Du, Marco Brotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Traditionally, there has been a widely accepted notion that the transition from acute to chronic pain follows a linear trajectory, where an injury leads to acute episodes, subacute stages, and progresses to a chronic pain condition. However, it appears that pain progression is much more complicated and individualized than this original unsupported assumption. It is now becoming apparent that, while this linear progression may occur, it is not the only path that pain, specifically low-back pain, follows. It is clear there is a definite need to evaluate how low-back pain trajectories are classified and, subsequently, how we can more effectively intervene during these progression stages. In order to better understand and manage pain conditions, we must examine the different pain trajectories, and develop a standard by which to use these classifications, so that clinicians can better identify and predict patient-needs and customize treatments for maximum efficacy. The present article examines the most recent trajectory research, and highlights the importance of developing a broader model for patient evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number48
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Acute
  • Chronic
  • Low-back pain
  • Pain
  • Pain trajectories
  • Subacute


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