Chronic Pain Management For The Elderly
Aging isn’t always an enjoyable process, and for many seniors the passing of years generates issues and ailments that can result in chronic pain. For some, this means nagging issues like mild arthritis. For others, it could be something more serious or harder to treat like fibromyalgia or post-operative pain.
Many seniors also have a difficult time expressing and self-treating their pain. That’s why chronic pain management becomes essential in the medical evaluation and treatment of adults enjoying their golden years.
While pain isn’t pleasant, there are techniques to help seniors manage pain and lead happy, healthy lives.
Understanding Chronic Pain
Before presenting treatment options, many doctors will want to make sure that a senior and their family truly understand what chronic pain is. Unlike acute pain, which is likely caused by an injury or illness and only lasts a short period of time, chronic pain lasts longer.
In many cases, chronic pain can last anywhere from two to six months or more. Experiencing chronic pain can also lead to psychological changes and impact a person’s sleep, appetite and general disposition.
That’s why finding the right treatment for chronic pain management of the elderly is so important.
Diagnosing Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can be hard for many seniors to express and understand. That’s why there are multiple ways that chronic pain is diagnosed among the elderly. Among the most common methods is a simple in-office examination with a doctor who will look for painful areas and discuss that pain with the senior.
Pain scales, imaging tests like X-rays and MRIs, as well as stimulation tests that use EMG treatment to stimulate an area of potential pain, also are commonly used. With these methods, doctors are able to diagnose and track pain while working toward solutions to reduce its impact on the patient’s life.
Pain Management Medications
Acetaminophen and NSAIDs are among the most common over-the-counter pain medications for chronic pain management in seniors. While these may work for some, they’re often not enough to relieve more severe chronic pain.
Narcotic treatments, anesthetic injections, muscle relaxers and steroids are prescribed in some cases, depending on the reason for the chronic pain. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication are also prescribed for some seniors, particularly those having trouble sleeping or getting through day-to-day tasks because of the psychological effects of chronic pain.
Other Treatment Options
Heat and ice are common at-home treatments for chronic pain management in seniors. While these aren’t effective enough all of the time, using these treatments on a schedule can help to ease pain.
Rehabilitation and physical therapy, as well as electrical stimulation, may be able to help some seniors as well. Others may benefit from assistive devices or surgery to remedy a physical issue.
Contact Turtle Creek Medical Center to learn more about chronic pain management for the elderly. From arthritis pain to more problematic issues like pain related to a cancer diagnosis, Turtle Creek Medical Center has the knowledge and experience to help.