You ask a question that 100s of researchers are actively seeking an answer to. Studies have been able to identify some risk factors (RFs) that can predict who might develop chronic pain. If we can change any of those RFs, maybe we can prevent acute pain from turning into chronic pain.
Some of the known RFs include: female sex, older age, and lower social class. People who are unhappy at home or at work tend to have more pain. Psychologic distress can be turned into physical symptoms. This is called somatization.
Some people tend to have more somatic symptoms than others. Depression is linked with somatization but it's not clear which came first: the depression or the somatization. New findings suggest there may be chemical, genetic, or hormonal factors contributing to chronic pain.
And researchers report that trauma or adverse life events may alter the stress response. This means that some individuals at more vulnerable than others to future adverse events.
Finding ways to prevent chronic pain from developing is the goal of many scientists right now. Unlocking the mystery of the biologic and chemical basis of pain may help the development of drugs to prevent or later treat the symptoms.