Persistent pain in the elderly is a multifaceted problem, and should be managed with pharmacological therapies and non-pharmacological treatments.
ACROSS the globe, persistent (chronic) pain is one of the most common reasons for the elderly to seek consultation with healthcare professionals.
Persistent pain, by definition, continues to affect the person for prolonged periods of time, and may or may not be associated with a well-defined disease. Different bodies have different defined persistent pain of various durations, ranging from three months to over a year.
Persistent pain manifests in various forms. Among the elderly, persistent pain is frequently associated with musculoskeletal disorders, such as a degenerative spine condition and osteoarthritis. Nighttime leg pain, pain from claudication, cancer pain, neuralgia secondary to diabetes mellitus, amputation, peripheral vascular disease, herpes zoster, and pain due to trauma, are common as well.
Notably, persistent pain also affects Malaysian senior citizens. According to the Community Oriented Programme for the Control of Rheumatic Diseases (COPCORD) Study in Malaysia, pain rates increase with age, with up to 53.4% in the age group of more than 65 years experiencing pain.
Low back pain, knee pain and joint pain are the most common complaints among those studied.
The most common disability in the Malaysian survey is inability to squat (3.1%), largely due to knee joint symptoms.
In fact, it is not surprising to observe such a trend, as the average life expectancy of Malaysians has increased. In 2010, approximately 5.1% of the Malaysian population consisted of people aged more than 65 years.
The increasing prevalence of weight problems (overweight and obesity), diabetes mellitus and cancer worldwide, adds to the pain problem.
Read more: The Star Online