Pain in the older population isn’t well studied. They are often deliberately excluded from many clinical trials because they can be a complicated bunch to study. Thankfully this is changing.
An Australian chiropractor and researcher, Dr. Katie de Luca, has recently published a paper which examined how common joint pain is in older women, in which parts of the body they experience their pain and whether having multiple areas of joint pain is associated with other poor health outcomes.
A snapshot of the finding from this study
- Data showed women aged over 65 years had a higher prevalence of pain at each body site and a greater total number of areas with pain in comparison to men.
- More than two thirds of women reported more than one site of joint pain.
- Having more than one area of pain in the body is known to be associated with greater physical impairment and psychological distress, impaired sleep quality and poor prognosis regardless of treatments.
- People with more than one area of pain are prone to suboptimal clinical outcomes, use the health system more, have reduced work productivity, poorer health status and reduced activities of daily living, than those with only a single area of joint pain.
- Older people and females are consistently found to be more susceptible to widespread body pain.
- Older women with multiple areas of pain had poorer physical and mental quality of life as compared to those without joint pain.
- Low back pain was the most common area of pain in older women.
- Women with more areas of pain used more prescription medication.
- Opioids are frequently prescribed to older people with multiple areas of pain, with older people 70% more likely to receive a prescription for pain-killers.
- Unfortunately, older people are 50% less likely to be advised about treatments like manual therapy and exercise (chiropractic treatment), compared to younger patients
- For women in this study the more areas of pain, the higher the pain intensity
- More than half of the women (aged 61–66 years) with multiple areas of joint pain were still in the workforce.
- Women with multiple areas of joint pain also had higher pain intensity, which has been shown to be associated with the onset of work productivity loss
Doesn’t sound promising for older women does it? More areas of pain, more prescription medication, less activity, more health concerns, poorer sleep, mental health issues, poor work productivity……..may as well give up now! Actually NO, don’t.
Conservative treatments, the kind of treatment that chiropractors do, like massage, manipulation and mobilization, exercises and relaxation/mindfulness techniques can often assist in reducing pain, increasing movement and improving overall quality of life. If you aren’t already trying these treatments to manage your pain, it might be worth considering giving them a go.
If you would like a pain assessment from one of our chiropractors so that we can come up with an individual management plan for you, then you can book an appointment with one of our practitioners.
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de Luca, K., Wong, A., Eklund, A., Fernandez, M., Byles, J. E., Parkinson, L., … & Hartvigsen, J. (2019). Multisite joint pain in older Australian women is associated with poorer psychosocial health and greater medication use. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 27(1), 8.