Chronic pain can be common for seniors in Joliet

According to the National Pain Foundation, pain among older adults is too frequently left undiagnosed and untreated. Statistics show that as high as 65 percent of older adults living on their own or with family, and up to 80 percent of seniors in long-term care facilities, have pain. Conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease further complicate an older adult’s ability to seek and receive adequate care for his or her pain.

As the baby boomers age, this could become even more of an issue, so the problem of pain in older adults needs to be addressed.

There are many reasons why seniors may suffer pain, from chronic disease to infection to joint and bone conditions. Here at the 10 common reasons why seniors have pain:

  1. Falls/trauma – Falling from lack of balance or weakness can end up a nightmare of pain. Safety proofing the environment is a must.
  2. Arthritis – While there are more than 100 types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common affecting 80 percent of older adults. Other diseases and conditions that cause joint pain include rheumatoid arthritis, gout and fibromyalgia. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States.
  3. Pain after surgery – While most people seem to bounce back after surgery once the worst of the pain is over, many times seniors don’t have that ability. This can result in long-lasting chronic pain.
  4. Osteoporosis – Thinning of the bones causes fractures. The fractures may not be obvious like hip or arm breaks; they can be in the spine, causing chronic and severe back and neck pain.
  5. Shingles – Shingles are an outbreak of rash or blisters on the skin that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox. The pain associated with shingles can be intense and is often described as “unrelenting.” Approximately 20 percent of shingles patients develop post-herpetic neuralgia, a chronic pain condition that affects the nerve fibers and skin.
  6. Face pain – This condition may include severe headaches, jaw tenderness and aching, muscle spasms and strain, dry mouth and toothaches.
  7. Back and neck pain – Back and neck pain can be caused by spinal stenosis, sprain or strain, past fractures, swollen or herniated disks, sciatica or arthritis.
  8. Abdominal pain – Causes include gallstones, appendicitis, bowel obstruction, peptic ulcer disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm, or gastroenteritis. Another reason may be constipation.
  9. Circulatory problems – Symptoms include muscle cramps, fatigue and aching, chest pain, leg pain, itchy skin, vein pain or varicose veins, and sores that heal slowly or not at all. Circulation issues frequently affect those with diabetes, a condition that affects nearly one out of five Americans over the age of 60.
  10. Cancer – Pain is one of the most common symptoms of all types of cancer. It is usually classified as one of two types: nociceptive pain, which is described as sharp, aching and throbbing and neuropathic pain, which is described as a burning or numb sensation.

According to About.com, It makes sense that older adults with chronic pain tend to have higher levels of depression and anxiety than those who don’t suffer from chronic pain.

Seniors may already feel a sense of loss, as they gradually lose the ability to function as they previously did. Decreased eyesight may keep them from driving. They may no longer be able to walk through the grocery store. They may resent having to use assistive devices such a walker or a cane. A perceived loss of independence can lead to feelings of depression and despair. These feelings are intensified by the presence of a chronic pain condition.

Chronic pain is not something anyone should go through alone. Seniors are more vulnerable to aches and pains than the average adult, and often these aches and pains do not go away with time. No one needs to suffer quietly.

It is vital to talk with the doctor, and complete honesty is a must. The doctor can help diagnose the reason for the pain and guide an individual toward a treatment that brings relief.

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