Non-pharmacological Management of Pain in the Elderly

  • Carol Mackintosh-FranklinEmail author
Part of the Perspectives in Nursing Management and Care for Older Adults book series (PNMCOA)


Pain in the elderly is an increasing problem with increasing life expectancy resulting in many people living for longer with a range of age-related debilitating and painful conditions. Management of pain in the elderly can be complex due to increasing fragility, cognitive impairment and the presence of comorbidities and polypharmacy. Non-pharmacological methods of pain relief would appear to offer a solution to many of these problems. Overall the evidence for the effective use of many non-pharmacological therapies in pain management for the elderly is limited. Most effective measures appear to be those which support self-help, those which provide distraction and promote exercise and the use of superficial heat/cold. There is limited evidence to support the use of most complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) including dietary supplements, and the role of psychological therapy is limited to improvements in mood states such as anxiety and depression. However due to the low incidence of adverse events, any non-pharmacological therapy which is perceived as offering some relief from suffering by the individual may have personal value.


Pain Elderly Non-pharmacological Complementary/alternative therapies Exercise Thermotherapy Psychological therapy Self-help 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Nursing, Midwifery and Social WorkUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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