Chronic pain is one of the most common conditions that healthcare providers see, particularly among those over 65 years of age. While about 20% of adults deal with chronic pain, a substantial proportion of elderly patients report chronic pain. In fact, geriatric nursing home residents report the highest prevalence of pain.
Factors Impacting Pain in Older Patients
The most common types of aches and pains in older people include:
- Joint pain and inflammation in the fingers, knees, hips and spine
- Joint stiffness in the morning
- Lower back pain
- Neck pain
- Nerve pain
These are common chronic conditions that cause chronic pain in older people:
Osteoarthritis – Older patients suffering from osteoarthritis, which is defined as progressive wear and tear of joint cartilage, often complain of morning stiffness and sharp or dull joint pain in the fingers, knees, hips and spine.
Rheumatoid arthritis – Seniors suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own tissues, may experience sharp pain, swelling and deformity in the joints of fingers, feet and wrists. In rheumatoid arthritis, pain and inflammation can become so severe that it is disabling.
Degenerative disc disease – This condition can cause lower back and neck pain. When discs in the neck and lower back degenerate, the soft material inside the discs can rupture and press on nerves. Depending on the location of the affected disc, the individual may have pain in the neck, lower back or pain shooting down the legs.
Bone spurs – Aging, disc degeneration and sports injuries can contribute to the growth of bone spurs. These calcified growths can occur along the spine, in the neck, shoulders, hips, knees and feet. When bone spurs press on nerves, tendons or ligaments, they can cause pain in the affected area as well as tingling and numbness.
Treating Older Patients for Pain
If you are caring for an older family member who suffers from pain, be sure to get them diagnosed properly and into treatment. Clearway Pain Solutions utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to treating chronic pain in older patients in order to relieve the pain and restore function.
While it may seem counterintuitive to avoid prolonged bed rest to relieve pain, remember the old adage, “use it or lose it.” Staying as active as possible helps relieve pain and improves outcomes.
A Clearway pain physician may prescribe medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) to reduce joint pain and inflammation or muscle relaxants to reduce pain from backaches and neck pain. The pain physician may also prescribe physical therapy to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility and reduce pain.
Here are some ways to help an older family member who suffers from chronic pain:
- Help them track their daily pain level and physical activities every day
- Support daily moderate exercise, which helps boost chronic pain relief from natural endorphins
- Encourage them to cut back on alcohol, which interrupts sleep
- Encourage them to not smoke
- Help them reduce stress, which helps interrupt the pain cycle
- Encourage them to eat healthy meals with lots of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables
Clearway Is Here to Help
If you or a family member are struggling with pain from a chronic or undiagnosed condition, Clearway has life-changing treatments that relieve pain, restore function and renew your life. Call us at 850-484-4080 to schedule a consultation now or visit us at ClearwayPain.com.