Pain in the Elderly



Chronic pain can be a common complaint in the elderly population. As the median age of our patient population continues to rise, these patients will likely experience more pain symptoms related to musculoskeletal pathology, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic disorders [1]. It is estimated that between 25% and 50% of community-dwelling elderly have pain complaints [2].There is an even higher prevalence of pain complaints in nursing home patients, estimated between 45% and 80% [3]. The consequences of chronic pain are significant, as it can cause feelings of isolation, depression, sleep impairment, and diminished quality of life. Ultimately, pain related to these chronic conditions contributes significantly toward annual health-care costs and health-care utilization. Although much of these pain complaints related to chronic conditions are not curable, there can still be an emphasis on management of pain in the older patient population. This chapter will review pain in the elderly, looking at the physiology, assessment of pain, pharmacologic, and nonpharmacological treatments.


Elderly Aging Cognitive impairment Pain assessment Geriatric pain management Geriatric pharmacology 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology, UT Southwestern Medical CenterDallas Veterans HospitalDallasUSA

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