Teaching seniors to self-manage their pain and understand pain treatment options is necessary to reduce or eliminate chronic pain. Safe treatments for seniors are available and include:
· Medications or Drug Therapy / Prescription and Nonprescription
If over-the-counter drugs do not provide relief, your doctor may prescribe stronger prescription medications like muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs, and other prescription painkillers.
· Physical and/or Occupational Therapy / Out-patient or Home Health
Physical and occupation therapies help to relieve pain by using special techniques that improve movement and function along with stretching, strengthening, and other pain-relieving techniques.
Research shows that regular exercise can diminish pain in the long run by improving muscle tone, strength, and flexibility. Types of recommended exercises for senior chronic pain suffers include swimming, biking, walking and yoga.
· Chiropractic Treatment & Massage
Chiropractic treatment and massage are increasingly used by seniors suffering from chronic pain – especially when the pain is occurring in the back and/or neck. The effectiveness of these techniques is an open and on-going debate. Osteopathic doctors are also trained in bone manipulation techniques like the ones used by chiropractors.
· Psychological Treatment for Depression & Anxiety
Chronic pains leads to increased levels of anxiety, stress, depression, anger and fatigue. Reaching out to a psychologist or counselor for professional help can help ease the emotional toll of chronic pain and make pain management possible.
· Alternative Therapies / Acupuncture, Meditation, Biofeedback
Some people find relief in mind-body therapies and dietary approaches including nutritional supplements. Alternative therapies are not always benign. Always talk to your doctor before trying an alternative approach. Be sure to tell your doctors about any alternative treatments you are using.
Seniors and the elderly suffering from chronic pain should see their doctor for a complete assessment to rule out underlying causes that can be treated or to learn how to manage their pain.
Chronic pain poses a significant problem for many seniors. Pain is incorrectly thought to be a natural or inevitable part of the aging process. Consequently, it is often under-reported and under-treated. Too often seniors do not report their pain because they do not believe it can be treated. Some worry that reporting it will lead to expensive testing, additional medications or a new diagnosis. Others fail to report it when they are in denial or fearful about disease progression when a diagnosis is in place. And then there are age-related conditions like hearing loss and dementia that make it more difficult to communicate or assess pain. To complicate matters even further, studies indicate that the pain threshold increases with advanced aging so pain tolerance decreases with age. Increases in pain sensitivity have been attributed to age-related anatomical, physiological and biochemical changes.
Treating chronic pain in seniors requires understanding the special needs of seniors and the elderly. Some older adults require special care because of multiple medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and other common ailments.