Office management of chronic pain in the elderly

Journal: American Journal of Medicine. 2007 Apr;120(4):306-15.

Authors and affiliation: Weiner DK. Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. [E-mail: ]

PMID: 17398221

Chronic pain plagues older adults more than any other age group; thus, practitioners must be able to approach this problem with confidence and skill.

This article reviews the assessment and treatment of the most common chronic nonmalignant pain conditions that affect older adults – myofascial pain, generalized osteoarthritis, chronic low back pain (CLBP), Fibromyalgia Syndrome, and peripheral neuropathy.

Specific topics include:
n Essential components of the physical examination;
n How and when to use basic and advanced imaging in older adults with CLBP;
n A stepped care approach to treating older adults with generalized osteoarthritis and CLBP, including noninvasive and invasive management techniques;
n How to diagnose and treat myofascial pain;
n Strategies to identify the older adult with Fibromyalgia syndrome and avoid unnecessary "diagnostic" testing;
n Pharmacological treatment for the older adult with peripheral neuropathy;
n Identification and treatment of other factors such as dementia and depression that may significantly influence response to pain treatment;
n And when to refer the patient to a pain specialist.

While common, chronic pain is not a normal part of aging, and it should be treated with an emphasis on improved physical function and quality of life.

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