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Feature Article

Pain in older people: often unrecognised and undertreated

Benny Katz

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Abstract

Pain is not a normal part of ageing and it is often unreported, unrecognised and undertreated in older patients. Appropriate treatment is required to ensure this population is managed effectively.

Key Points

  • Pain is not a normal part of ageing; its high prevalence in older people is secondary to the burden of pathology.
  • Pain in older people is often unreported, unrecognised and undertreated.
  • The absence of pain in the elderly does not exclude the possibility of serious illness – e.g. silent myocardial infarction.
  • A multidisciplinary approach to treating pain in older people is often more effective than drug therapy alone.
  • Treatment approaches and goals need to be modified to suit the needs of the older person.

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