Many older adults function well despite persistent pain, and the degree to which pain interferes with function is largely related to the individual’s burden of biopsychosocial comorbidities. (1)
Persistent pain is defined as pain that continues beyond the expected time of healing, or for at least three to six months. Medical, psychological and social comorbidities, as well as environmental factors, may contribute to pain and/or impact treatment response. Pain may contribute to homeostenosis (the progressive and gradual decline in physiological reserve with aging) and amplify frailty. (1)
Older adults may under-report the severity of pain because of misconceptions that pain is a normal part of aging, a tendency toward stoicism or fears of addiction. The coexistence of sensory (vision and/or hearing deficits) and/or cognitive impairment also may make the evaluation of pain more challenging in the older patient.