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Managing chronic pain later in life

Last Modified: February 27, 2024

Diseases & Disorders, Family Medicine

Woman with shoulder pain

This post was written by Carly Nahrwold, NP, PPG – Pain Management.

Chronic pain is a persistent challenge for many aging adults. Within this population, it is estimated that up to 93% live with some degree of discomfort. While pain is a common occurrence among the elderly, it is not a part of the normal aging process. Consequently, this misconception often leads to undertreatment for these patients. Pain management in older adults can be particularly challenging for varied reasons including possible cognitive decline, multiple health conditions, altered metabolism and polypharmacy.

Impact on quality of life

Chronic pain can have a negative effect on the quality of life of elderly adults. In addition to causing physical, mental and social impairments, chronic pain can lead to a loss of functioning, which contributes to a loss of independence, social isolation and an exacerbation of underlying health conditions. Furthermore, chronic pain is also correlated with increases in cognitive decline, dementia and even premature death in older adults, while also contributing to the burden on healthcare systems and accelerates dependence on institutional care. The prevalence of chronic pain, combined with the difficulties of care for older persons, necessitates a comprehensive and personalized plan of action.


Pain management in older adults

Effective pain management can help to improve the overall welfare of older adults by easing discomfort, enhancing function and encouraging social engagement for a more fulfilling life. The older population can face some unique challenges to pain management, including limited communication, underreporting/misinterpretation of pain, ageism, fear of addiction, cost and reluctancy to receive treatment.

PPG –Pain Management is dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of painful conditions in older adults. Our comprehensive approach promotes the use of therapeutic interventions, physical therapy, optimizing non-opioid medications and psychological services. We offer a wide variety of minimally invasive interventional treatment options for common conditions including arthritis, degenerative disk and joint disease, failed back surgery syndrome, sciatica, radiculopathy and migraines.

If you would like to learn more about treatment options, contact PPG – Pain Management. Parkview Health has pain management providers located throughout the region. If you are interested in establishing care with one of our providers, call our 24/7 scheduling center at 877-PPG-TODAY.



Johansson MM, Barbero M, Peolsson A, Falla D, Cescon C, Folli A, Dong HJ. Pain Characteristics and Quality of Life in Older People at High Risk of Future Hospitalization. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jan 22;18(3):958. : 10.3390/ijerph18030958. PMID: 33499309; PMCID: PMC7908626.

Domenichiello AF, Ramsden CE. The silent epidemic of chronic pain in older adults. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2019 Jul 13; 93:284-290. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2019.04.006.  2019 Apr 17. PMID: 31004724; PMCID: PMC6538291.

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