Aging & Health A to Z
Causes & Symptoms
About four out of five older adults suffer from at least one common chronic condition that causes pain, such as:
- Joint diseases (arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis)
- diabetic neuropathy (damaged nerves caused by diabetes)
- diabetic foot ulcers or other skin problems
- oral or dental problems
- post-herpetic neuralgia (persistent pain that follows an episode of shingles)
- blood circulation problems (peripheral vascular disease)
- post-stroke syndrome
- muscle diseases
- bone conditions (osteoporosis, fractures)
- inflammatory diseases of the blood vessels or joints (temporal arteritis).
In fact, many older adults have more than one painful disease, causing different types of pain in different locations at the same time.
Symptoms of Pain
You know when you are feeling pain. The important thing is to let your healthcare provider know:
- The location of the pain
- The intensity of the pain
- How often you feel the pain
- How long the pain lasts
- What soothes it or makes it worse.
Your self-report is the crucial link that will allow you to get the treatment you need. You are the best source of information on your pain.
Pain in Older Adults with Dementia
If you are caring for an older person with dementia or who is cognitively impaired or unable to tell you what they are feeling, they may express pain in other ways, including changes in behavior or usual activity. Look for:
- restlessness, agitation, irritability, resistance, or guarding behaviors
- crying, moaning, or groaning
- limping, frequently shifting position
- pained facial expressions, such as grimacing
- changes in usual daily activities, including fewer social interactions
- refusal to eat
- disturbed sleep.
Updated: March 2012
Posted: March 2012