Pain management strategies for senior citizens

Pain management strategies for senior citizens

Pain is more likely to be experienced by the elderly people and is more common amongst them, yet in many cases, it is under-treated. This is probably because most of the seniors feel it is just part of aging thus, see no need to report it. This however can endanger their health. Pain experienced by the elderly come in different levels and last for varying durations of time. This not withstanding, there are many options for reducing or even eliminating pain. Pain experienced can either be;

  • Chronic (Usually lasts from 3 to 6 months and can cause long term physiological and psychological health problems).
  • Acute (Begins with a sharp pain and lasts for a short while, usually not more than a month).

Common causes of pain in the elderly:

  • Neuropathies
  • Pain after surgery
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Shingles
  • Pain that comes after a fall
  • Cancer
  • Pain in the calf muscles (gastrocnemius, soleus and plantaris) usually as a result of poor blood circulation.
  • Morning joint stiffness
  • Neck and lower back pain

Pain treatment options

It is better to take a multiple approach when dealing with pain and aches in the elderly ones. This is to help restore their physical functions and control associated health disorders. Recommended treatment options;

  • Analgesics such as acetaminophen are quite effective medications for treating mild to moderate pain. Care should however be taken to avoid its abuse.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen are common pain relievers. Their side effects however include; nausea, diarrhea and dizziness. They are not recommended for people with high blood pressure.
  • Opioids (narcotics) are powerful drugs used to treat especially severe pain. They are usually prescribed for post-surgical pain and should be taken with care as they can be addictive. Examples of opioids include; codeine, hydrocodone and morphine.
  • Massage therapy. This includes muscle relaxants for backaches and neck pains and can help release tension in tight muscles.
  • Physiotherapy or physical therapy such as yoga, stretching, weight training to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles and reduce joint pain can be effective for pain management if properly done.
  • Avoiding prolonged bed rest. This is so as to relieve joint, lower back and neck pain as being confined to bed for a long time could worsen these cases.
  • Surgical interventions such as hip replacement therapy might be the only solution to cases of severe joint pain

Care should be taken  by health professionals when prescribing pain treatment for the elderly and consider if your 2019 medicare advantage plans pays for it. This is because they respond to pain and pain treatment differently from the younger generation.