Acute pain is temporary, lasting less than 3 months, and it may come on suddenly from an injury or illness. Acute pain is typically straightforward: the source of the pain is clear, and if the source of pain is withdrawn or the injury is healed, the pain ceases.

An injury followed by healing is the usual pattern for acute pain, and there is typically a clear expectation that healing will be completed within a certain time period. Acute injuries are generally not accompanied by anxiety or depression unless the injury requires extensive rehabilitation.