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Elderly Want More Help with Musculoskeletal Pain

May 30, 2014

By David Douglas

NEW YORK - Many community-dwelling older people with chronic musculoskeletal pain feel that their predicament is being overlooked, according to Finnish researchers.

As Niina Karttunen told Reuters Health by email, "Based on our findings it seems that a considerable proportion of older people do not receive enough attention from physicians to their pain problems. A more active role for physicians is needed in the process of recognizing, assessing and controlling pain in older people."

Karttunen of the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio and colleagues conducted a substudy as part of a larger population-based health intervention in people aged 75 years and more.

A total of 270 participants (203 women and 67 men) took part in the three-year follow-up study in which they were interviewed and examined annually by nurses, the researchers report in Age and Ageing, online May 9.

At baseline, 41% wished that physician would pay more attention to pain management. At one year this was true of 49% of this group and at two years the proportion had fallen to 31%.

This wish was strongly associated with poor self-rated health (odds ratio, 2.94), having moderate-to-severe pain (OR, 3.46) and daily use of analgesics (OR, 4.16).

"A more active role for physicians is needed in the process of recognising, assessing and controlling persistent pain in older people," the Finnish team writes.

Untreated pain, they point out, "causes unnecessary suffering and despair at the individual level and increases the use of healthcare services causing extra costs to society."

"The goal of the management of chronic pain should be at least to bring it down to tolerable levels, and to avoid unnecessary suffering it is important to use comprehensive pain management strategies and to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment regularly in older patients," Karttunen added.


Age Ageing 2014.

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