Pain Management Solutions for Older Chronic Pain Patients

May 9, 2024 | Pain Management

Chronic pain is one of the most common medical conditions Americans experience these days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that one out of five adults experience chronic pain every year. For most patients, the agony of enduring pain can be debilitating, severely impacting the quality of life and well-being of those affected. 

It’s no surprise that chronic pain patients — particularly older adults who simultaneously suffer from other troublesome conditions — are highly motivated to find pain management solutions that actually work. Since May is Older Americans Month, we want to take some time to highlight the pain management treatments currently available and highlight those that offer the most promising levels of relief for aging seniors.

When Does Pain Become Chronic?

Doctors consider pain “chronic” when it is persistent or recurring and lasts longer than three months. It can stem from a long list of causes such as injury, infection, disease, or nerve damage. Some of the more common conditions associated with chronic pain include arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, and back problems.

Chronic pain can be particularly frustrating because it extends beyond physical discomfort and often disrupts other aspects of life including mental health issues like depression and anxiety; hindering daily activities; preventing healthful sleep; and even affecting relationships and one’s social life. 

This constant battle with pain can create an ongoing feeling of helplessness and despair, which is why patients need lasting relief as soon as possible. Without proper treatment, chronic pain can escalate into a more severe condition, potentially leading to disability and continued deterioration of a person’s quality of life.

Pain Management Solutions

Thankfully, older adults have access to a wide variety of pain management solutions these days that address the many different types of chronic pain. Here’s an overview of the kinds of treatments currently available:

Medication

Doctors frequently recommend over-the-counter medicines like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen for mild to moderate pain relief. For more severe cases, doctors turn to prescription drugs such as opioids, anticonvulsants, or antidepressants to treat pain and its related symptoms, although they usually do it cautiously because many of these medications can become addictive or come with dangerous side effects.

Lifestyle Changes

In the majority of cases, medical experts will encourage patients to engage in regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, and get adequate sleep every night as part of their pain management plan. Regular physical activity reduces pain over time by strengthening muscles and improving flexibility, while a well-balanced diet helps with overall health and can alleviate the fatigue and irritability that often come with chronic pain.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapies like physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments, and stretching can help manage chronic pain by improving a person’s mobility and ability to function. By making the body stronger and more flexible little by little every day, chronic pain patients often find that the intensity and duration of their pain are steadily reduced after a few weeks or months. 

Even after the chronic pain has subsided, it can be important for older adults to maintain some level of physical therapy (through stretching or gentle exercises) to prevent the pain from returning. 

Advanced Treatments

In addition to all the pain management solutions mentioned above, specialists often turn to minimally invasive procedures to target the source of a patient’s pain and provide more immediate and longer-lasting relief. These treatments include: 

  • Nerve blocks — an injection of medication near a nerve to numb a specific area and reduce pain
  • Trigger point injections — a shot with medication that targets a taut muscle knot to ease pain and muscle tension
  • Corticosteroid injections — deliver anti-inflammatory medication directly to an inflamed area to reduce pain and swelling
  • Radiofrequency ablations — uses radio waves to heat and destroy tissue and interrupt pain signals

Your healthcare provider should help you choose the right pain management strategy depending on factors like the location of your pain, its intensity, its impact on your daily life, and your overall health condition. 

Remember, every patient is unique and may respond differently to various pain management solutions. It can be difficult to know how well a patient will respond to any given therapy until they try it.

Find Pain Management Solutions at HPM

At HPM, we understand the complexities of chronic pain and provide the latest medically advanced pain management solutions at our clinics across rural America. Our team of qualified specialists is trained to pinpoint the source of each patient’s pain and takes advantage of advanced medical treatments to help our patients regain control and get back to the life they love.

Find an HPM clinic near you and start your journey toward effective pain management today. Remember, chronic pain may be a part of your life, but it doesn’t have to define it. With the right approach and support, you can manage your pain and live a healthier, happier life.