The number of Americans who suffer from chronic pain annually is staggering! A recent report by the Institute of Medicine estimates the number of people who live with persistent pain — pain that lasts for more than 3 to 6 months — to be 100 million. Unfortunately, seniors are far more likely than the average adult to be among those that suffer from it. Up to 88% of older adults report some form of chronic pain. But the good news is that older adults working with their healthcare provider can learn to manage their condition and live a full life in spite of pain, no matter what their age.
Seniors are more vulnerable to chronic pain for a number of reasons including greater joint and muscle wear and tear, the presence of other medical conditions, and a general decrease in activity levels. They are also more at risk for accidents that can lead to chronic pain.
About 20% of senior adults report taking pain medications several times per week, usually for joint or muscle related pain. The more common types of chronic pain seniors tend to have are:
- Arthritis / joint pain
- Peripheral neuropathy, often associated with diabetes
- Central pain syndrome, often associated with stroke
- Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Lingering pain from injuries, such as rotator cuff tear or hip fracture
- Cancer pain
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