Pain in older people is under-recognised and under-treated

This article was published by kind permission of the British Geriatrics Society Blog Team

Pain in older people is under-recognised and under-treated according to the authors of new guidance on the management of pain in older people published by the British Pain Society and the British Geriatrics Society.Image

There have been very few studies dedicated to the management of pain in older people.  However, the bio-physiological changes that occur with ageing, the accumulation of co-morbidities and co-prescription of medication, frailty and psychosocial changes make older people rather different when considering treatment options for pain control.The British Geriatrics Society and British Pain Society have collaborated to produce the first UK guideline on the management of pain in older people.  The recommendations follow an extensive systematic review of the available literature and aim to help health professionals, in any care setting, to consider the options available when managing pain in older patients.

The guideline has been categorised into sections dealing with pharmacology, interventional therapies, psychological interventions, physical activity and assistive devices and complementary therapies.

For a number of reasons older people do not always report pain and, in addition to this, health professionals often don’t know how best to manage pain in older people.  Treatment is often limited to prescribing basic medication and is seldom tailored to an individual.  National guidance on the management of pain in older people is long overdue and these evidence based clinical guidelines are an important step towards improving quality of life for older people by focusing attention on a range of appropriate pain relief options and interventions.