Geriatric Benign Chronic Pain: An Overview
Ranjan Roy Faculty of Social Work and Department of Clinical Health Psychology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba
Michael R. Thomas Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba
Andrew J. Cook Pain Clinic, University of Virginia
The topic at hand is very large in scope and there is truly no way of doing justice to its complexity in a short chapter. In this chapter we discuss pain in old age by considering issues of prevalence, psychosocial and psychiatric factors, and some ideas of assessment and treatment.
Rate of prevalence of pain in the elderly population reported in a variety of studies varies from 20% to 58% ( Farrel, Gibson, & Helm, 1996) and, given the variability of these studies in their design and sampling methods, drawing any firm conclusion is difficult. Although certain chronic pain conditions, such as musculoskeletal pain, are more prevalent in older patients, research has consistently shown declining overall pain complaints with rising age ( Anderson et al., 1993; Gibson & Helme, 1995; Moss, Lawton , & Glicksman, 1991; Sternbach, 1986; Thomas & Roy, 1988a).
It is hard to ignore that certain conditions are more common in old age and some are peculiar to that stage of life. It is a generally accepted fact that musculoskeletal pain is most common in the elderly. Joint aches and pains are indeed so common that many elderly persons regard this as part of being old ( Roy & Thomas, 1988). The Nuprin Pain Report found that older individuals had more joint pains than any other age group, and incidence and prevalence of joint pain increased with age. Conversely,