Painful misconceptions

Pain is a common and often significant problem in old age. Geriatric patients seem to be at especially high risk of having their pain overlooked. “A major reason for this appears to be a number of widely held misconceptions that reinforce its mismanagement”, says Dr KJ Choudhary, Pain Management specialist, Apollo Hospital.

The commonest misconceptions:

* Chronic pain is normal for old people and need not be addressed by doctors.

* Older patients are better able to cope with pain than younger patients.

* Chronic pain may inconvenience the elderly, but will do them no real harm.

* Elderly are very sensitive towards their pain, so it has to be managed very safely and effectively. Analgesic medications like Paracetamol are effective first line therapy. “Instant pain relief should not be the only objective, we have to look at long term efficacy and safe management” says Dr Choudhary.

* Patients with pain often reduce their activity levels. This can worsen already existing medical conditions and increase the risk of developing additional ones.

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