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Pain in the Elderly

Abstract

Pain management in the elderly has increasingly become problematic in the USA as the aged population grows. The proportion of the population over 65 continues to climb and may eclipse 20 % in the next decade. In order to effectively diagnosis and treat these patients, a proper history and physical exam remain essential; pain assessment scales such as the Verbal Descriptor Scales (VDS), the Numerical Rating Scales (NRS), and the Visual Analogue Scales (VAS) often but not always prove beneficial. The conditions most frequently afflicting this population include osteoarthritis, diabetic neuropathy, post-herpetic neuralgia, and lower back pain which include spondylosis and radiculopathies. While the normal aging process does not necessarily guarantee symptoms of chronic pain, elderly individuals are far more likely to develop these painful conditions than their younger counterparts. There are many effective treatment modalities available as potential therapeutic interventions for elderly patients, including but not limited to analgesics such as NSAIDs and opioids, as well as multiple interventional pain techniques. This review will discuss chronic pain in the elderly population, including epidemiology, diagnostic tools, the multitude of co-morbidities, and common treatment modalities currently available to physicians.

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Correspondence to Alan D. Kaye.

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Mark R. Jones, Ken P. Ehrhardt, Juan G. Ripoll, Bharat Sharma, Ira W. Padnos, Rachel J. Kaye, and Alan D. Kaye declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Jones, M.R., Ehrhardt, K.P., Ripoll, J.G. et al. Pain in the Elderly. Curr Pain Headache Rep 20, 23 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-016-0551-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-016-0551-2

Keywords

  • Pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Elderly
  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Opioids
  • NSAIDs