Introduction

Pain in the elderly is common and poses both challenges and rewards for its management. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) Global Year Against Pain in Older Persons was in 2006. There is also a summary publication by the IASP1 as part of the Progress in Pain Research and Management series. This provides an up-to-date and comprehensive review of the issues relating to pain in the older population.

The aim of this chapter is to examine some of the key areas related to elderly pain and its management. All of us are at risk of suffering from painful conditions, with the older person having the potential to suffer from several painful conditions at once. Specific conditions are covered in Chapter 5, Epidemiology of chronic pain: classical to molecular approaches to understanding the epidemiology of pain. Here we discuss the issues specific to the older population, including epidemiology, before reviewing the physiological and psychological consequences of aging and discuss their relevance to pain management. Assessment poses particular difficulties and is a vital component of pain management. This is further complicated when the effects of cognitive deficit and dementia are considered. Our discussion of the interventions used in pain management focus on those that are of particular importance to the elderly.

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