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Pain Management in Older Adults

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What do I need to know about pain in older adults?

Pain is not a normal part of aging and may be a sign that something is wrong. Sometimes the cause of pain is not clear. Pain management is an important part of your care. It can increase your appetite, sleep, and energy. It can also improve your mood and your relationships.

What are the types of pain?

How will healthcare providers know if I am in pain?

You may have many questions and fears about pain. Do not be ashamed to tell your providers about what you are feeling. Tell them where you hurt and how bad it is. You may try to deny that you are having pain to show courage or to escape treatment. Conditions such as dementia (memory problem), brain damage, or a stroke may make it hard to express pain. The following are common signs that may tell providers that you are in pain:

How is the cause of pain diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and look for painful areas. Your provider may touch or press different places on your body and ask about your pain. Your provider may ask you to describe your pain. Tell your provider if your pain is sharp, dull, or achy. Tell your provider if you have constant pain or if it comes and goes. You may also need any of the following to check how much pain you have or to find its cause:

Which medicines are used to treat pain?

What do I need to know about prescription pain medicine safety?

Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions based on the medicine you are taking. The following are general guidelines:

What can I do to manage pain without medicine?

Where can I find more information?

When should I call my doctor or pain specialist?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.